As more and more Disney fledglings and aspiring pop princesses dominate the emerging young artist scene, the focal point in music shifts farther and farther away from the actual music: we see glitter and glamour replace originality and creativity, we see terms like "musicianship" and "virtuoso" become obsolete and we see the profession of performer transform into a mere placeholder for celebrity. However, with the release of Northern Redemption, The Abrams Brothers – John 19, James 16 and cousin Elijah 19 – will bring the focus back to the music and represent young musicians as they should be: as artists.
The 10-track album, the fourth release from The Abrams Brothers, marks a transition from the music of their roots to their own distinct sound. It's a combination of bluegrass, country and folk-rock that's had Canadian media up in arms over their potential. This album features the new single "Seventeen" – a song that relates to growing up, something the band has done so much of in just a few short years. The song captures perfectly both the nostalgia toward youth slipping away and the fresh excitement of adulthood on the horizon, while showcasing the band's pop vocal harmonies and hooky songwriting in a memorable chorus.
Northern Redemption was produced by Canadian musician, singer, songwriter and producer Chris Brown, who is well known for his longstanding musical partnership with Kate Fenner, former bandmate of now defunct The Bourbon Tabernacle Choir, and his work with Tony Scherr, Ani DiFranco and The Barenaked Ladies.
"[The Abrams] are an immensely wonderful and talented family and so steeped in many traditions of music," said Brown. "It is just so apparent in their work, but also just so full of life and energy that everything inhabits the present tense with them. It's like they bring tradition to the table all the time, but it's really living and beautified."
The Abrams Brothers are fourth-generation musicians and have musical roots reaching back to their great-grandparents. Musical collaborations spanning generations in the Abrams family, be it at hometown performances, in the recording studio or on tour, are practically family tradition.
John and James, who started playing at the ages of 9 and 6, respectively, and Elijah demonstrate mastery over their instruments (John on guitar, mandolin and violin, James on violin and viola, and Elijah on upright bass) and vocal chords, sounding like well-rounded, fully developed veteran musicians.
With as many credits to their name as The Abrams Brothers have, veteran is not far out of reach even at their young ages. In 2005, the Ontario-based group became the youngest Canadians to appear on Nashville's iconic Grand Ole Opry, where many stars before them, like Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn and, more recently, Garth Brooks and Carrie Underwood, have stood. They have already traveled overseas to play a European music tour in 2006 that took them through four countries and to perform at the 2007 and 2008 Jacob's Ladder Folk Festival in Israel. In 2006, they received the Daniel Pearl Memorial violin, given to especially gifted young musicians in honor of international journalist and musician Daniel Pearl, who was taken hostage and killed in Pakistan in 2002.
Last year the band released Blue On Brown, an album of songs by Arlo Guthrie and Bob Dylan. The record was the boys' tribute to songwriters they had always admired. Even Arlo Guthrie, the legend himself, recognized the talent of these two youngsters after he first heard them playing his own songs at one of his shows and thought they were "way too young to be playing that good. I know I will be hearing from The Abrams Brothers for a long time to come."
As Bob Dylan once sang and The Abrams Brothers sing now, "As the present will later be past, the order is rapidly fadin'." Dylan's prophecy couldn't prove to be truer. Welcome to the new order, an order structured according to talent that is here to stay, courtesy of The Abrams Brothers.