Brother's Keeper

Rich Mullins "Brothers Keeper"

by Melissa Riddle

CCM Magazine September 1995

What Rich Mullins has unearthed in his latest release, Brother's Keeper, is rich in the lyrical wisdom we have come to expect and the simplicity that makes Mullins uncommonly good for the soul. Continuing with the Ragamuffin Band (sans Reed Arvin and a few others from the A Liturgyproject), Brother's Keeper is a milieu of earthy life-verses which reflect the struggle of letting go. Letting go of pride, judgment, and apathy, letting go of our children and letting mercy lead, letting go of our own will to hatch from our shells and learn to fly, letting go of the past to join the joyful promenade, letting go of the wounds of love to find a faith of healing, and even letting go of life to find it eternally. Through his music, Mullins shares the rich truth that "although. . .foolish hearts may break/They will find peace," that to surrender is to live "I cannot cling to shadows again/So here on this altar tonight/I lay every dream I've ever dreamt/To burn in the fire he lights" (from "Cry the Name").

There is also an undercurrent of praise and thanksgiving that gives Brother's Keeper its power. "Damascus Road," a song of praise for a totally transformed life, sums up the entire effort: "But if my darkness can praise your light/You give me breath/And I'll give my life/To sing your praise." It could be the song of Saul. It could be the song of us all.

Other highlights include: "Brother's Keeper," a declaration about being human, the humanness of us all, and unconditional acceptance and "The Hatching of a Heart," a metaphor for maturing in Christ.

Though not as uniquely encompassing and otherworldly as A Liturgy, a Legacy and a Ragamuffin Band, Brother's Keeper stands on its own musically, heralding again the inspired idea that brought such talented, unconventional players together.

What was noble and moving church music in the Liturgy, Legacy project has walked out into the street and into the house. This is where we live. Or it should be.

Rich Mullins "Brothers Keeper"

by Robert Mineo

Shout! Magazine October 1995

Rich Mullins is an artist of supreme consistency. The earthiness of his music is compelling and continues to mature on Brother's Keeper, the follow up to his excellent Ragamuffin Band. Said band is again in place for this record.

Incorporating more roots rock - and the Appalachian tones of his heritage - adds a unique edge to a great batch of songs. The vocals do not always reach out and grab the listener, but are appropriate in context and nicely carry forth the poetic and though-provoking lyrics. Yet another fine addition to an already worthwhile catalog.

Rich Mullins "Brothers Keeper"

by Lisa Zhito

SShout! Magazine December 1995

Rich Mullins is in his finest hour with this, his eighth release. Mullins wrote most of Brother's Keeper with his longtime collaborator, Beaker, and coproduced the album with his band. The result is a record that should become a landmark on Mullins' musical resume'.

From it's opener, the sunny "Brother's Keeper", to the rousing closing track, "Quoting Deuteronomy to the Devil," the album's 10 lovingly crafted songs tell of one who sees God in the fullness of life's experiences. Lush melodies wrap around tenfer lyrics that are sometimes heartbreaking in their honesty. And while Mullins says the album was not writting with a particular theme in mind, the songs clearly portray the struggle of one heart learning how to love.

Mullins is the master at imbuing a sense of plave in his music. The Old World influences of his last release, A Liturgy, A Legacy & a Ragamuffin Band, are less evident this time around. Instead, Brother's Keeper, taps into American folk stylings, such as the slide guitar on the Delta-inspired "Deuteronomy."

Mullins has a fondness for rather esoteric arrangements and instrumentation; while this makes for beautiful msuic and critical kudos, it doesn't usually lead to radio airplay and number one singles. Brother's Keeper marks a departure, however. While the music is just as delicious, the songs on this record are more radio accessible. Especially strong are its title track and the album's second track, "Let Mercy Lead."

Brother's Keeper is one of those rare albums that leaves one wanting more. With Mullins pursuing a personal dream of teaching music to Navajo children, one can only imagine the musical fruits we may see develop from that rich environment.