Published Jun 03, 2014Creating music together can create tension and tear people, even brothers, apart. On the other side of the same coin, shared musical roots — especially between siblings — can be the basis for reconciliation. Americana troubadours Dave and Phil Alvin haven't recorded together since the Blasters' Hard Line in 1985, but their love of American legend Big Bill Broonzy brought them back together for this wonderful, understated tribute to their shared musical idol.
As Dave says in the liner notes, the brothers' love affair with the late singer started the moment they got a hold of a reissue of Broonzy's Big Bill Blues. The Alvins' adoration is abundantly clear as they tackle a dozen of Broonzy's songs with a grace and warmth the man himself would most definitely have been proud of. Their voices are perfect complements to each other, with Phil occupying the higher ground and Dave's baritone keeping things grounded and earthy. Shuffling through a lot of acoustic-based country-blues, the album sometimes runs the risk of muddling together, but the brief punctuations of more rock-oriented blues, like "Tomorrow" and "Truckin' Little Woman," breathe enough energy into the proceedings to keep things moving forward at a pleasant pace. Common Ground isn't setting out to reinvent anything or add anything particularly new to the growing lexicon of Americana, but is rather a lovingly crafted, beautiful homage to an oft-overlooked titan of American music. (Yep Roc)