July 01, 2004

Bro Danielson "Brother Is To Son"

What's in a name?

With Brother Is To Son, it's important that you understand the importance of the name. Bro Danielson is Daniel Smith, who you may know from the weird yet utterly compelling Danielson Famile. He first hit upon the name Bro Danielson a few years ago on the Tri-Danielson!!! concept albums, where the name was used to describe his softer, solo/folk songs.

It's important that you know this, because it will serve you well.

First things first, this is not a Danielson Famile record. True, his family appears throughout Brother Is To Son, but this album is quite a different affair than everything that's come before. Instead of crunchy, weird rock a la the Pixies, Smith has looked to the quieter moments of folk-rock for inspiration. The influence of his labelmate and friend Sufjan Stevens is quite apparent--especially considering Stevens is a regular contributor throughout. Still, Bro Danielson still sounds like nothing you've ever heard before, and first-time listeners will still go "this> is Christian music?!?!?!?!" upon first listen.

Just because Smith is making music that's a bit more conservative soundwise, you shouldn't assume that the music is any less weird. Sure, the opening "Things Against Stuff" and "Our Givest" will instantly remind you of Smith's excellent past, but quiet, thoughtful songs like "Daughters Will Tune You" and "Perennial Wine" show Smith developing a tender side that was only hinted at in the past. You'll also smile when you hear Smith venture into country on "Animal In Every Corner." The best of the bunch is "The Hammer Song," which focuses upon the blessing of making music when life is bringing you down and "Brother Is To Son," which finds Smith reflecting upon the fatherhood of man and the brotherhood of all believers.

Smith has a knack of getting really, really weird, yet rooting his weirdness in his Christian belief has the ability to make these really weird songs seem quite straightforward. He's making postmodern Christian music for disillusioned believers and nonbelievers alike, and it's a beautiful message he is delivering. True, Brother Is To Son is not as immediate a record as Fetch the Compass Kids, but after a few listens the album's fruits will reveal themselves, rewarding your patience with some of Daniel's best compositions. The more you listen, the more you hear, the more you hear, the more the words sink into your heart, and the deeper the words sink into your heart, the happier you'll feel.

In that regards, Brother Is To Son is exactly like every other Danielson Famile record.

--Joseph Kyle

Artist Website: http://www.danielson.info
Label Website: http://www.secretlycanadian.com

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