Recommended Tracks: “Cry Me A River”, “Another Life”, “Almost There”
Artists You May Like: Carolina Story, Beth // James, Lowland Hum
Whether it was fate or coincidence, Garrison Starr and Sean McConnell were meant to make music together. When they were paired up for a session at a songwriting retreat, they instantly felt connected. Their songwriting styles, their voices – it all fit together so naturally, and Garrison and Sean wanted to foster their potential as a duo. In March of 2020, as the covid-19 shutdowns began, the two released their first project as My Sister, My Brother. This project was self-titled and contained five tracks that captured their familial harmonies and rare chemistry. Once travel restrictions were lifted, they reunited to work on their follow-up album, My Sister, My Brother II. With a goal of bringing people together, the album focuses on the importance of helping those in need and being there for each other, highlighting the way these simple actions can make a lasting impact.
When it comes down to it, helping someone out in a moment of need should not be complicated. If you truly care for that person, you will show up, anytime and anywhere. On the folk anthem “My Sister, My Brother,” Garrison and Sean reach out with a friendly hand. Sean sings, “My sister / When she stands up / I’ll stand with her,” while Garrison offers, “My brother / Let us break bread / With each other,” painting selfless scenes. This sense of support comes up again on “Shelter,” another folk anthem that also wants to do good. Both Garrison and Sean sing the track’s comforting lines together, their solidarity unwavering. Optimistically, they sing, “I’ll be your shelter / I’ll be your shoulder / I’ll hold you steady when the river rushes over,” bringing us to a safe space.
It is clear that Garrison and Sean’s desire to reach out comes from their own experiences of people coming into or out of their lives. On “More Than You Could Give,” both tell the story of abandonment. They keep pace with the guitar strums, directly delivering the track’s pointed lines. The pain in their voices makes us understand the hurt, especially in lines like, “You could’ve made me feel more understood / More like a person, God forbid / I told myself you did the best you could / But now, I don’t think that you did.” When you can’t count on someone close, you may be able to turn to someone new, as we hear on “Maybe There Are Angels.” This introspective piano ballad encourages the listener to trust more, with Sean taking another look at the motives of strangers. He sings, “Is it that hard to believe / That the guy behind the counter has a halo up his sleeve?” showing that kindness can be found in unsuspecting places.
And when you do connect with someone, it is inevitable that you will share all kinds of experiences together. On the opening track “Cry Me A River,” Garrison and Sean trade verses about surrendering to your feelings and letting them all out in front of others. As we hear, “I want you to cry / I want you to cry and cry / Till you’re a river / A river that runs itself dry,” Sean’s darker timbre only makes Garrison’s sound lighter, bringing a comfortable balance to the tone of the song. In the end, it is healthy to express how you feel, even when the mood is heavy. On “Almost There,” we have an emotional ballad that conveys the weight of forgiveness. In between the dramatic downbeats, we get lines like, “A couple more tears to cry / A couple more questions why” and “A couple more fires to set / Gotta get it off my chest / I can’t forgive you yet / But I’m almost there.” It is definitely not easy to forgive someone after a fall out, but with the lows of relationships come the highs. Capturing the sibling-like bond they have on the playful “Another Life,” Garrison and Sean walk us through a night when their connection was as strong as ever. Accompanied by a vivid rock and roll production, they sing, “We were deep in conversation / Trying to name the constellations / Singing ‘Bennie And The Jets’,” before admitting, “Yeah, you make it easy babe / Like it’s always been this way / Like I knew you in another life.”
Overall, My Sister, My Brother II is an honest, straightforward project that takes common ideas, like offering help and being there, and turns them into something special. Garrison and Sean’s songwriting expertise makes it easy to pick up on the vibe of each track right away, as the lyrics and the music speak for themselves. And with such simple yet vital messages that pertain to one’s character, for instance, the songs are not to be ignored. We can all put to use the words that are being said, especially when they are emphasized through Garrison and Sean’s pleasant harmonies and supported by drama-free productions. While it gives itself to crying, as Garrison had anticipated when speaking about the album, it will also “help people feel less alone,” which Sean had hoped.
You can listen to My Sister, My Brother II on platforms like Spotify and Apple Music.