Brother Sun- Some Part of the Truth: New Folk Classic

Bother Sun. Some Part of the Truth.
Brother Sun Music, 2013.

Brother Sun:

Super groups are a familiar phenomenon in pop music, but I would venture to call Brother Sun a rare super-group in the folk genre.  The three mainstays of the group- Greg Greenway, Joe Jencks, and Pat Wictor- have their own successful solo careers in Chicago, Boston, and New York.  Joining forces in 2011, the full Brother Sun complement has already made “Best of” lists and are currently touring nationally.  While the three front-liners are a great reason in and of themselves to give Brother Sun a listen, there truly is a “gestalt” situation to this assemblage, with the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.  In the rich history of male harmony groups, Brother Sun manages to stand out as a solid type specimen and introduction for today’s listeners.

Appropriately enough for Labor Day weekend, Some Part of the Truth often calls upon the tradition of songs written about hard work and an honest day’s sweat, painting romantic images of dangerous jobs and the folks who do these jobs.  From the feet of Lady Liberty, to the struggles of the Civil Rights movement, Some Part of the Truth speaks to the American story in an eloquent yet grounded manner that is honest at its heart and refined by time and passion for music creation.

The vocals on the album switch from person to person, with no single, dominant voice of Brother Sun.  The instrumentation is balanced and plays off of the talents of the vocalists to their full extent without being over-powering.  Piano, drums, cello, guitar are present in various songs, and the repertoire of Brother Sun is apparent in the changes from song to song, with more folk-tunes, blues, Americana, and country represented beautifully.  Picking out “favorites” on this album is nearly impossible, but at 13 tracks, a track-by-track review would get a little lengthy.  Highlights include Lady of the Harbor, which talks of the immigrant experience and the changes she has seen in her years; St. Christopher is another sea-tale, this time of stormy waters and losses at sea; Jericho Road speaks to the weight of hate on the one doing the hating; House That Jack Built is a gorgeous acapella piece with dignity and pride in one’s job well done and years lived well.  To close out the album, I Ain’t Got No Home has a twangy, drum-driven ditty of wandering and restlessness.

All around, Some Part of the Truth is a stellar performance to remind anyone of the joys of song, both for the listener and the maker, and the crisp clarity of everyday experiences that folk music can bring to life across generations and miles.  Check out Brother Sun, and hear their magic first hand.

Personnel:  Greg Greenway, Joe Jencks, Pat Wictor, Zev Katz, Joe Bonadio, Brian Sanders

Tracks: Lady of the Harbor, In the Name of Love, Everybody’s Cryin’ Mercy, St. Christopher, There’s Enough Love, Sad, Jericho Road, Pushing Stones, Willow, The House That Jack Built, These Hands, True, I Ain’t Got No Home


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