It’s hard for John and James Abrams to recall a time in their young lives where they weren’t creating and playing music together. As fourth-generation musicians, The Abrams have taken the “family business” to a whole new level with their recent signing to Warner Music Canada and major label self-titled debut EP.
The Abrams is a departure from their earlier work, spurred by Gavin Brown – the Juno award-winning and Grammy nominated producer. Brown (Billy Talent, Metric, Three Days Grace) took it as a personal challenge to bring out the best in The Abrams and introduce them to a broader audience. The resulting EP does indeed make an indelible first impression, yet is only a taste of what The Abrams and Brown have created together. Knowing now what they can accomplish in the studio, and how to translate that to the stage, The Abrams are fully prepared to take a place alongside Canada’s best-known country music stars.
The EP slowly emerged out of an intense two-year period of writing and recording that began almost immediately after The Abrams and Brown first met in January 2014 at Brown’s Noble Street Studios in Toronto. No idea was left untested, and different approaches to the material were often still being explored right up until the final mix. The brothers knew early in the process that they had chosen the right collaborator after seeing how Brown shared their tireless work ethic and tenacity.
“Working with Gavin has really been about taking all the country, bluegrass and gospel music we grew up playing, and honing it into a sound that’s distinctly us,” notes John Abrams. “Country music is where we feel most comfortable as artists, and on this EP we’re embracing it differently than we have in the past. Although we’re still in our early twenties, we feel our music has never had so much youthful energy before. That’s why we’ve decided to call the EP simply The Abrams. It really does feel like a new beginning.”
It’s all captured on “Fine,” the lead single from The Abrams, on which the brothers brilliantly display their vision to blend their musical roots with an attitude more in tune with their generation. No one has ever questioned the pair’s prowess as musicians, and now The Abrams have found their feet as songwriters as well.
As James Abrams explains, “Over the past two years, John and I have started writing together more than we ever have. It’s been really exciting for me because, as a fiddle player, melodies are flowing through my mind all the time. The emotional qualities of those melodies will suggest a framework for a song, and in a lot of cases, John will then start to flesh it out with some lyrics and we’ll both develop it from there. It’s almost become like building a house; we’ll each bring our own materials and construct it together.”
Barely into their teens, the brothers made their mark at many high profile U.S. bluegrass festivals, and in 2005 they became the youngest Canadians to perform at the Grand Ole Opry. In 2008, they made their first album, Blue On Brown, a collection of Bob Dylan and Arlo Guthrie songs, followed in 2011 by Northern Redemption, their first all-original album, which nonetheless echoed the work of their bluegrass heroes such as the Louvin Brothers and Jim & Jesse.
Their lives have revolved around music since childhood. Now that they’ve, in a sense, successfully completed their apprenticeship, The Abrams are poised to step onto the larger stages that modern country music offers. Their debut EP proves that, indeed, they were born ready.