Originally from Victoria, Australia, the Teskey Brothers – made up of brothers Josh and Sam Teskey and their friends Brendon Love and Liam Gough – began playing together as teenagers. They released their debut LP, Half Mile Harvest, in 2017 and rapidly won critical acclaim at home and here in the UK, as well as gaining huge popularity. After playing sold-out shows at Omeara and Union Chapel, as well as festivals around the UK this summer, the quartet have now released their second album, Run Home Slow.
The record opens with Let Me Let You Down, which starts with a slow, bluesy groove before Josh says ‘go again’ and the track restarts. Right from the off it sets the tone that this is a very organic record, flaws and all, and makes it feel incredibly authentic – almost like you’re being let in on a secret jam session that’s being recorded live. The song’s laid-back vibe is balanced out by Josh’s raw yet soulful vocals and I like the slightly 60s feel it has too. The lyrics are also very clever, with a twist before the chorus kicks in and capturing the flawed characters well, and it sets the template for the next 45 minutes very well.
Throughout the album one thing that stands out to me is the experimental feel of it. Tracks like Man Of The Universe, with its mix of jazz and gospel influences, and the hopeful yet defiant Hold Me, which features a choir and chanted, repetitive imagery that burns into your brain in the best way, show the quartet willing to explore a different side of their sound. I particularly liked the use of instruments such as organ and horns and how the band play with them to add a different vibe on each song, such as the contrast between the downbeat, lonesome vibe of Rain and the jazzy yet slightly surreal Sunshine Baby, which wouldn’t sound out of place on the La La Land soundtrack. That said, there’s still plenty of room for the classic blues and Motown sound that characterised Half Mile Harvest, particularly on the subdued, piano-led Carry You – a theme which runs through the whole record – and the funky, chilled-out Sun Come Ease Me In with its vivid, detailed characters.
However, what pulls the whole album together is Josh’s outstanding vocals. By turns gravelly, rich and smooth, he shows incredible control across all 11 tracks, knowing just when to let rip and when to hold back. One particularly strong example of this is San Francisco, where his measured delivery of the song heightens its emotional impact before taking off towards the end. You really feel the sense of yearning and resignation coming through every word he sings and it’s impossible not to be moved by it.
For me the centrepiece of the record is Paint My Heart. Clocking in at almost six minutes long, it features an atmospheric organ intro before giving way to pounding drums and lonesome guitars over a screaming effect from Josh. There’s a real anguish about his vocals on the song that really highlights the stark imagery in the lyrics, and the sparse arrangement makes the whole thing very powerful indeed. Meanwhile, the switch from a wall of sound to the acapella bridge and back intensifies the freewheeling feeling and shows just how tight the band are musically. I also really loved So Caught Up, which put me in mind of Amy Winehouse’s You Know I’m No Good with its slinky groove and playful, poppy piano that contrasts the bittersweet lyrics.
The album closes with That Bird, which starts off with a summery, California-in-the-60s feel from Sam’s twangy guitar before the drums kick in. Josh’s vocals have a great mellow, laid-back vibe, floating effortlessly over the melody as he sings ‘they can be carried or carried away’. There’s a real sense of security and being drawn into the music and wrapped up in it, and it’s definitely a song that makes you think, especially on the long organ outro that stays with you after the record has finished.
Overall Run Home Slow builds on everything that makes the Teskey Brothers great – particularly Josh’s vocals, the band’s tight musicianship and the energy of their live shows – but also shows them willing to branch out and try new things, and it’s all the better for it. It’s an incredibly strong album that will appeal to fans of classic blues and those who enjoyed Half Mile Harvest, but should also win over plenty of new listeners too. For me they’re one of the most exciting bands around at the moment and I’m really keen to see where they go next (and hopefully have them back in the UK soon!).
Track listing: 1. Let Me Let You Down 2. Carry You 3. Man Of The Universe 4. Hold Me 5. Paint My Heart 6. Rain 7. So Caught Up 8. San Francisco 9. Sunshine Baby 10. Sun Come Ease Me In 11. That Bird Record label: Decca/Vertigo Release date: 2nd August 2019