Ok, full disclosure here: Brother Wild’s frontman and founder, Seth Dady, is not only the music pastor at The Well, my home church in Boulder, he’s also a good friend. In fact, all the members of the band are pretty good friends.
Now that that’s out of the way, White Flag is an impressive first album (first release of any kind for Dady, in fact) for the Boulder, CO based indie-rock band. On their debut album, Brother Wild has recorded ten great, stand-alone songs that come together like the walls and rooms of a solidly built house. The title is suggestive of the theme of the album as a whole. Each of the songs tells a story of a relationship won through hard-fought battles and eventual surrenders. White Flag tells the story of those loves that have their moments and seasons of ugliness, but persevere nonetheless and become something whose beauty far exceeds the pain. These vignettes of the complexities of love and commitment are captured through strong, uncomplicated music that is as great to listen to as the lyrics. The songs are infused with beautiful harmonies (between husband and wife, Seth and Chrystal Dady), great guitar (Dady and Tyler Shaw), intricate drumming, thoughtful production, and catchy but artful melodies.
Trying to find a quick comparison for Brother Wild’s new-but-familiar sound is difficult–which is awesome. Each track has a sound unique to itself, but still a very strong relationship to the album as a whole. As I listen to White Flag, many of the tracks remind me of the California brand of country-rock epitomized by the Eagles, Chris Isaak, and Jackson Browne. “Captured,” the title track, “White Flag,” and “Home” are all reminiscent of Jackson Browne or Don Henley–both in Dady’s vocals and the overall structure and mood of the songs.
“House Fire” and “Gravity” are heartbreakingly and beautifully written acoustic ballads. “House Fire” is like something from Springsteen’s Devils and Dust. It has the lyrical wisdom of someone who’s walked a hard road with music that captures that weird mix of weary perspective and contentment that only comes with age. And “Gravity” is just gorgeous, pulling together Dady’s shining skills as a wordsmith with a haunting slide guitar and some damned pretty finger picking. Listening to it encapsulates those times that are so hard and somehow so beautiful that all you can do is hold your lover’s hand and wait it out.
“The Day I Saw You,” “Where I Belong,” and “When My Day Comes” are rollicking folk-rock numbers in the vein of The Avett Brothers, My Morning Jacket, and Wilco. “When My Day Comes” is White Flag’s most overtly Christian song, but avoids anything resembling the saccharine, cloying lyrics and musical qualities that plague much music produced by Christian artists.
Listening to White Flag, you’ll hear snatches of The Wallflowers on “Leave It All Behind” and Warren Zevon on “You Won’t Stop.” In other places I’ve picked out bits of Aaron Sprinkle or have been reminded of John Prine’s lyricism, but I don’t want to overburden White Flag with comparison, as I’m afraid I’ve already done.
While I’ve made a number of comparisons to other great artists that Brother Wild reminds me of, I (thankfully) cannot say that they sound like any one of them. Dady and Co. have taken elements from these great artists and combined them with their own sensibilities to make an album that is inspired and unique and most definitely their own. Each of the musicians featured on White Flag has proven themselves as an artist in their own right. Brother Wild has a the confidence and thoughtfulness of a band that’s been around for much longer. My only criticism is that I wanted several of the tracks to keep going–even just another bar or two of those luscious instrumentals!
Bottom line: Get this album. Listen to it. Enjoy it. Draw your own conclusions.
MY FAVORITE TRACKS: “Gravity;” “House Fire;” “Home;” “White Flag”