Brothers Osborne ‘Stay A Little Longer’ – Single Review
Just three singles and an EP in, it seems as if the Brothers Osborne have hit upon a niche that is going to serve them well in the long run. Both ‘Let’s Go There’ and ‘Rum’ (both sent to radio in the last two years, making top 40 and top 30 respectively) seemed to strike a compromise between topics that radio would enjoy, and taking them from a different angle with a rootiser musicality than one might expect from a mainstream act. Now new single ‘Stay A Little Longer’ aims to do the same, taking the well-trodden bro-country topic of calling someone up for sex and adding the inner conflict of commitment fear. “I tell myself I’m not in love, but one more time is not enough,” TJ sings. “So calm and so cool, yeah I try to be, like it don’t bother me. The last time was the last time until I’m all alone and picking up the phone.”
Unlike in a lot of the bro songs where the focus is often on the casual, unattached nature of the affair, particularly when it comes to one night stands, ‘Stay A Little Longer’ highlights the often inevitable emotions that become caught up in a booty call. There is no mention of the “little hottie” dancing, shaking her ass, the man’s basic primal needs or random alcohol sponsorship references. Yes, this is a song about casual sex, but like a real country song should it brings the passion and the emotion, the entanglement that such a situation might give way to. From the beginning the narrator admits that he is overcome and not thinking straight, “Something like a strong wind is coming over, has got a hold of me,” revealing the raw lust in this song is less about partying and more about desire for a particular human being who he just can’t shake. This is how the Brothers Osborne toe that fine line between the kinds of topics that radio wants and the kind of real stories that disenfranchised fans want.
The music, too, is quite interesting. The song begins with a repetitive mandolin melody and a just-audible organ, subtly driving the chord progression forward in a swath of reverb before TJ’s vocals come in over the stripped-back, atmospheric ballad. But that’s not all there is to this, as after just a short verse the beat kicks in, shimmering tamborine over a cajon drum and the duo’s combined harmonies putting a rhythmic slant on the lyrics and speeding up the tempo. At just forty seconds in we’re treated to the chorus, which only announces itself insomuch as adding a full drum kit and texture-thickening electric guitar, but by this point there’s enough going on that the mix has become a pleasant wall of sound. Still, it’s over before it feels like it’s even really started, and the second verse represents far more of what we’d expect from modern country music, if it stuck around for a long enough time to settle into it. Perhaps that in itself is a reflection of the title’s theme, as part of the track’s curious arrangement is down to its constant chopping and changing, and indeed the main part of the song (in the radio edit) is over at 2:53. After that a very Brad Paisley-esque, blues-rock guitar solo takes us out for a minute to fade, and we’re left feeling perhaps as tantalized but as ultimately unsatisfied as the character in the song might be.
Were all of these clever little references deliberate? Who knows. Whatever was meant by each of their intriguing decisions in relation to the writing and production of this song, it really, really works, and perhaps is their best single yet. Let’s just hope radio plays the heck out of it.