Danielson Brother Is to Son (as Br. Danielson)

[Secretly Canadian; 2004]

Rating: 3.5/5

Styles: folk, acoustic rock, indie pop
Others: Sufjan Stevens, Danielson Famile

There's something rather schizophrenic about Brother Danielson's latest release, Brother is to Son. The sixth release from the now veteran Danielson Famile sees elder sibling Daniel Smith applying his name to the title but, as with other Famile releases, the entire clan plays a part or, as it were, an instrument. Garnering a cacophony of sounds from related musicians, subdued yet, somehow, potent percussion sets a steady background for the strong rhythms put forth from a collection of acoustic guitars with additional character flavor coming from piano and banjo.

There are plenty of enduring moments on this album, and, as a whole, it is a very strong release. Even to fledgling listeners this could possibly be a very inviting album. The countrified instrumentation is enough on the "fast" tracks to cause one to bounce those feet and bob that head. Additional instrumentation from Sufjan Stevens on banjo gives slower tunes like "Daughters Will Tune You" such a friendly feeling that it seems the Famile may be asking you to sing along. However, after one has settled in to the comforts of "Daughters," a shriek comes swooping down in the form of Daniel Smith's falsetto voice. Even on these faster-paced tracks, where Smith's falsetto demands less attention, it is impossible to deny this is the shortcoming of Brother Is to Son. And while some will find this aspect of the album endearing, it draws from the strength of the acoustic instrumentation and chorale accord of the Danielson Famile siblings.

The Christian rock angle has been written to death about the Danielson Famile and shall hence be whipped once more. It has been widely documented that, while the Famile may have deeply religious roots, they are by no means a Christian rock band. Consequently, a rather taught rope has been walked by the Famile. Whereas their religious influence may very well alienate their prospective independent audience, their folk-art-punk for Christ set has artistically placed them well above their contemporary bible baby acts.

Easily put, this is not a Christian rock band in the celebratory sense. Where other Christian acts come off as preachy and judgmental (you know who you are), Brother Is to Son is merely music from a kid who happens to love that feller Jesus Christ, and for that, we may be able to forgive him. Whatever Christian undertones this release may have, the bulk of the album is rarely identifiable as religious music. While many of us haven't attended church in years, if ever, and don't believe in G to the O to the D, under the condition that our choir director happened to be Daniel Smith, we might start going just to have a good time and sing with the Famile.

1. Things Against Stuff
2. Cookin' Mid-County
3. Animal in Every Corner
4. Daughters Will Tune You
5. Our Givest
6. Sweet Sweeps
7. Perennial Wine
8. Hammers Sitting Still
9. Physician Heal Yourself
10. Brother: Son