Homespun: The Pernikoff Brothers

On My Way

Brothers Tom and Rick Pernikoff hail from St. Louis but criss-crossed the country before moving back home. After spending time in Boston for college and cofounding a tech start-up in California, the brothers came back to the Midwest last year. When it came time to record a debut album, the siblings chose yet another locale Nashville and enlisted a rogue's gallery of session musicians at Ocean Way Studios. These players have recorded with stars such as Bruce Springsteen, Waylon Jennings, Faith Hill and James Taylor, and it's clear from the crisp sound of the record that no expense was spared. When the album credits include a guy named Zoro who acted as "drum advisor," you know you're dealing with high-budget, well-manicured studio perfectionism.

But how does On My Way sound? Like a high-end studio job, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. Rick and Tom, in addition to sharing vocal and songwriting duties, coproduced the disc (with some help on the tracking, mixing and mastering duties, as expected). The Brothers' vision guides the disc, and it's a vision encompassing genteel, nice-guy folk rock with little flourishes of country and soul peppered throughout. "Waiting On You" ambles easily on circular banjo plucks and romantic earnestness, a quality that is amplified by the syrupy string section. Opening track "The Beach" finds a better use for the studio magic, as slow horn crescendos mesh with the swirling organ swells, giving an appropriate ebb-and-flow to the track. Tom and Rick are neither stellar vocalists nor particularly inventive songwriters, but the husky soul (and the smartly tailored arrangements) that they bring in each track helps elevate the tunes from their humble singer-songwriter origins.