The Brilliance, BrotherReflective, stripped back worship music that is ideal for those who want to avoid 'Jesus is my boyfriend' type material. There are definite strains of fine artists like David Crowder and Future of Forestry.

Label: The Brilliance Music
Time: 10 tracks / 39 mins.

"When I look into the face of my enemy, I see my brother," goes the title track and "Why do we choose who's in and who to cast out?" asks another. The Brilliance use their art to adore God, expresses lament and looks into things that make for peace. They do it all with humility and a remarkably strong batch of tunes.

David Gungor is the brother of Michael, who has a reputation for both thoughtful content and a more artistic approach to his worship music. This release shares Michael's approach. Co-leader is John Arndt, who was also in Gungor.

"Yahweh," a preparation song that invites Jesus into our (or should that be His?) world, is one of a few tracks that could almost be a Future of Forestry piece. There are similarities in vocal timbre, but more because the sound is full of Indie sensibility, but stripped back and unpretentious, with a strong melodic flair. It's so apparently effortless that it is almost as if they couldn't write a bad tune if they tried.

Thanks largely to its strings section, "Love Remains" is another that could be from Forestry, but final track "May You Find a Light (Reprise)" even more so (I wonder whether it is some kind of deliberate tribute). A combination of piano intro; a riff picked up by keys, fiddle and strings; together with a choral section on the chorus and their style of percussion make it something that would sit happily on Travel 2.

With its Kyrie lyrics and openness to God, "Prayers of the People" is one of several tracks simple, humble and reflective enough to be from Taizé. "Dust We Are and Shall Return" asks for God to make us whole. "Does Your Heart Break" is like one of David Crowder's slower acoustic outings, appealing straight to the spirit.

That lack of pretension (accentuated by some tracks stopping before their time) is so heart-warming that you want this to succeed, but it does earn its plaudits musically. Most of the album uses classic instrumentation, particularly piano and strings, but the other musical colours are so bright when they do come in, that it all feels more of a contemporary tapestry. Sometimes those colours are strong dashes of technology. Like most tracks, "Make us One" is stripped back, but this one is heavy on electronic percussion and what sounds like a treated cello, giving it the feel of later Derek Webb. It just about qualifies as drum & bass, but without the stylistic connotations.

We could do with more songs like these that actually reflect Jesus' words and acknowledge the reality of this world. It is a huge bonus that Brother is so musically rich. Such is its palette (from Taizé to David Crowder and back to Rend Collective) that it could equally appeal to both traditional worship music lovers and those drawn toward artists like Sufjan Stevens. If it were secular, it could have the impact of something like Bon Iver.

This might not knock your socks off, but it does sneak upon you and give you a huge bear hug that you might feel compelled to return at length.


Derek Walker

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