Brothers Osborne released their long-awaited sophomore LP Port Saint Joe on Friday, a freewheeling, captivating record that features blistering guitar fireworks from John Osborne, as on lead single “Shoot Me Straight.” But the LP also includes its share of moving ballads, like the jazzy, soulful love song “A Little Bit Trouble” – which might have sounded a little different had it not been for Keith Urban.
Cut with the help of producer Jay Joyce, one of the co-producers on the band’s 2016 debut Pawn Shop, “A Little Bit Trouble” was written by John and TJ Osborne with Dave Barnes. The hook for the slinky slow-burner was the brainchild of Brothers Osborne’s bassist Pete Sternberg, but the duo decided to change it after Urban released one of his biggest hits to date.
“It originally sounded like ‘Blue Ain’t Your Color.’ It was the same melody,” TJ Osborne tells Rolling Stone Country, referring to Urban’s Number One hit from 2016. “We were in the studio and had to change it. We tried umpteen different melodies, but it sounded like we were trying to change it. And that melody was great, which is why it was a huge hit for that other song. We hadn’t heard [“Blue Ain’t Your Color”] until it came out and we knew we had to change it or people were going to accuse us of ripping it off.”
It was Joyce who finally came to the rescue. “Jay came in and said, ‘I have this idea to not even sing a melody but do this instead.’ I loved it. And it was awesome the way it turned out. That’s flying by the seat of your pants in the studio,” TJ says.
Joyce would also have influence – albeit inadvertently – on the guitar solo of “A Little Bit Trouble.” “Jay had a Jazzmaster [guitar] with huge strings on it. You could not bend them,” says John Osborne. “When you listen to the solo, there’s no bending because I can’t physically bend the damn thing. It was that, an amplifier and a reverb pedal.”
Port Saint Joe dropped less than a week after Brothers Osborne scooped up two trophies at the ACM Awards in Las Vegas, for Vocal Duo of the Year (their second-straight year taking the honor) and Video of the Year (for “It Ain’t My Fault”). They perform at Stagecoach Festival in Indio, California, on April 28th.
(Reporting by Joseph Hudak)