The Malpass Brothers – Bringing Traditional Roots Back to Country Music

MalpassCov FINALIn today’s Country Music scene, the majority of songs being cranked out by songwriters and artists is very similar in sound and writing style – it has been pegged as “bro country” and stems from the music of Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan and Florida-Georgia Line – and there is proof behind this movement in the 2014 Country Mash-Up from Sir Mashalot on Youtube.

What happened to original lyrics, distinct voices, and true musicianship? It is still around, and is making a comeback with a different kind of bro country in  The Malpass Brothers. Christopher and Taylor, are unabashed and shameless purveyors of tradition, playing music that is reminiscent of classic country, rockabilly and honky-tonk songs of decades past. They perform the music of artists who inspired them, including Hank Williams, Sr., Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, Lefty Frizzell, Waylon Jennings, Elvis and The Louvin Brothers. They also write and perform original music that harkens back to those styles.

Chris and Taylor Malpass are brothers from Goldsboro, North Carolina and have been playing their kind of Country before Country was even cool. The Malpass Brothers toured with Merle Haggard for six years and recorded an album on Hag Records.

“Merle was great to work with him on our first project in studio and we learned a lot from being on the road with him,” said Chris.

the malpass brothers
Pictured: Taylor Malpass, Chris Malpass, Doyle Lawson, Ty Gilpin and Mickey Gamble.

Recently, Chris and Taylor were performing at a festival where Bluegrass Legend, Doyle Lawson, heard the brothers for the first time and was so impressed that he expressed interest in working with them. The Malpass Brothers were signed to Organic Records – an entity of the Crossroads Music Group – in the Fall of 2014 and are set to release their first self-titled album, The Malpass Brothers, on May 26, 2015.

“Timeless is when the past is the future and the future is the past. The Malpass Brothers’ sound is timeless,” Lawson says.

Malpass Brothers in NashvilleChris plays Charlie Louvin’s guitar and Taylor plays Ira Louvin’s mandolin on “Satan and the Saint” and “I Found Someone to Love” as a respectful nod to the authentic sound created by that legendary brother duo. “Here In Alberta I’ll Stay” is a new song by Pete Goble and sung by Chris with a delivery reminiscent of Marty Robbins’ inimitable style. Chris’ vocals on the original “Learn to Love Me Too” are part Hank Williams, part Merle Haggard, and pure Chris Malpass. Taylor shines with his powerfully lonesome lead vocal on “Hello Walls” and on harmonies throughout. His musicianship is spotlighted with daring leads on guitar and mandolin. Taylor’s playing is distinguishable by his use of guitar/mandolin and amp – he does not use pedals on his powerful picking.

There is a strong thread of rural, old timey, tradition running through this excellent album but this music, while it could easily have had relevance in the 1960’s is perhaps even more so now. As a number of young bands have successfully done recently, The Malpass Brothers have taken the traditional roots of the genre and rather than trying to copy that, have added their own individual stamp and updated the tradition.

The funny, off-the-cuff quips between the two 20-something siblings, on and off the stage is only the tip of the iceberg behind these two sincere and honest artists.

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Chris and Taylor Malpass with Duncan Promotions team in Nashville.

In promotion of the release of their new album The Malpass Brothers and a private event gig, Chris and Taylor were in Nashville. The Brothers’ first stop was on Sunday evening for The Music Row Show. The next morning they stopped by to visit the team at Duncan Productions and play a few tunes for their radio promo team on the latest project. Then they noshed with some of Nashville’s media including Billboard’s Chuck Dauphin and Nashville Country Club’s Leslie Armstrong at the Calypso Café. Afterwards, Nashville Music Guide had a chance to spend the afternoon with the Chris and Taylor. During our time together we learned that not only are they traditionalists in their country but also in their everyday life. Taylor and Chris are huge fans of vintage clothing and own several suits and such from performers like The Louvin Brothers, Merle Haggard, and more. They are enthusiasts of that era – they even schooled us in some vintage car history. When asked if they would consider themselves retro, Chris replied:

“This is who we are…My brother Taylor and I do the type of music we do because this music speaks to us, and speaks to the souls of its listeners. For us, traditional country music is the ‘real deal’ – every song portrays life’s joys, heartaches, problems and happiness. It comes from the heart, and has depth and truth. Nothing is sugar-coated. Our goal, really, is to see this music be revived, to help ensure it doesn’t fade away. It is so encouraging to have young people come to our shows with a new interest in our ‘old music.’ Being able to introduce what we love to another generation feels like a great accomplishment for us. We want this music to be around for our children’s children…”

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Chris and Taylor Malpass with Katy K of Katy K Designs.

Chris, Taylor and NMG stopped into Katy K Designs to check out some Nashville’s local vintage shops. And it was a good thing we did, because Katy K will be shutting their doors May 26th and moving to online only. “It’s so sad to hear that they [Katy K] will be closing the doors, it is one of my favorite vintage shops when I stop into Nashville,” stated Taylor. They got the chance to meet the owner and get a couple of shirts for posterity from this iconic music boutique.

For more information on the Malpass Brothers:

Feature by: Amanda Andrews

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