Review of Brother

When I look into the face of my enemy, I see my brother.
— Brother, The Brilliance

Those are the first words from Brother, a new release from The Brilliance. It's a remarkable record, and it reflects the eclectic composition of the group itself. Brother, like The Brilliance, is an exploration of tension.

Musically, tension exists between the string quartet and the decidedly rock and roll rhythm section. Thematically, Brother asks what it means to believe in a loving God who produced a broken world. It eschews easy answers and platitudes, and explores lament.

True to tension, this exploration of lament is beautiful and inspiring.

The opening track, for which the record is named, challenges us to face the reconciling message of our faith. The lyrics speak to us individually and across western culture. It's a call to forgiveness, and to the rejection of vengeance. Brother admonishes us to see not what is different about our enemy, but how they are like us. This message is spoken in smooth harmony, soaring strings, and a solid back beat.

Both Now And At The Hour and Yahweh ask God to come and mend us, to intervene in a world gone wild. Both Now And At The Hour is a lovely track, simple and open, but I have to admit that Yahweh is my favorite track in the whole album. The contrast between the symphonic tones and the near hip-hop movement of the bass and drums just works.

Jesus, come in your weakness. Bring hope to all the world.
— Yahweh, The Brilliance

The fourth track, Does Your Heart Break, is the most poignant. God often seems absent in our world–and this is clear to anyone who's reflected on the incredible suffering in our world. Does Your Heart Break poses a question to the Divine: when we can't see your actions to address the worst hurts and injustices of our world, does your heart break like ours? Do we have solidarity in our creator? This message is driven home with a powerful allusion to Eric Garner.

When the man said, ‘you are choking me,’ and he cried out ‘I can not breathe.’ Did your heart break? Does your heart break now?
— Does Your Heart Break, The Brilliance

Without offering any answers, the tone of the record shifts in Love Remains and Breathe. The lyrics of both tracks are reflections of God's presence and those times when we are most aware of our Creator. Breathe powerfully reflects on our longing for God, and the power of awareness to our connection with that ultimate love.

Dust We Are and Shall Return and Prayers of the People are delicate tracks, and reflect the fragile nature of humanity. I was reminded that we are made in the image of God, but it's an ephemeral image. These tracks challenged me to reflect on what it means to be dependent on God.

The Church is fragmented into thousands of splinters. What began as one stream is deeply divided today. Make Us One is a call for unity and solidarity to the Church, and indeed to our whole species.

Why do we choose who’s in and who to cast out?
— Make Us One, The Brilliance

The record concludes with May You Find a Light, a benediction that imparts on the listener a blessing. This is a record for seekers and searchers of all stripes, and it offers exploration without explanation.

People say Christian Music is superficial. Brother stands against that trend with music that is decidely Christian–this is music for the church. But, it's not sugar coated. It's not a movement of simple assurance. Brother asks difficult questions beautifully, and it offers few answers.

I've heard it said that solidarity is a gift. Often what the hurting need most is to hear two words, "me too." And that is the message for the person who loves God but is confused by the world that surrounds us: "me too."

Brother is available on iTunes, Amazon, and other music retailers.

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