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The Hobart Brothers & Lil' Sis Hobart

At Least We Have Each Other – 2012 (Freedom)

Reviewed by Robert Wooldridge

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CDs by The Hobart Brothers & Lil' Sis Hobart

In the tradition of the Traveling Wilburys singer-songwriters Jon Dee Graham, Freedy Johnston and Susan Cowsill join forces to create a fictional group of musical siblings. Much of the tone is gloomy, as in the darkly humorous I Am Sorry in which Johnston calls an estranged girlfriend for assistance when stranded in hopes of repairing his car and his relationship ("Can you come get me at the Citgo by the airport/My heart may be broken and my battery is dead").

The Hobart name comes from the shared history of working in the restaurant industry and experience with Hobart dishwashers. In First Day On The Job the singers trade observations about their dreary working conditions, most notably with Graham's acknowledgement that "I realize I only met these guys this morning/And I care for them even less than they care for me." With The Dishwasher Graham expands on this theme as he complains of "washing dishes in a joint where I cannot afford to eat."

Cowsill provides some optimism with I Never Knew There Would Be You ("But then you stumbled around that corner/There you were as big as life to give me a shoulder"), as well as the sweetly sentimental Sodapoptree.

Stronger tracks include the country ballad Sweet Senorita, featuring nice harmonies by Johnston and Cowsill, and Ballad of Sis (Didn't I Love You), a Cowsill country-rocker reminiscent of Lucinda Williams.

With brilliant songwriting and strong performances this entertaining effort leaves country fans hoping for more from this fictional family.