Brother Down, hailing from Santa Cruz, CA is an ensemble of eclectic artisans who together form an acoustic-based band whose musical influences are many. Their vision is inspired and given life by the Christian church and fine literature down through the ages.
Brother Down is: Founding members Jordan Brownlee (Guitar, Vocals) and Chris Reno (Vocals, Guitar), as well as Alex Wurmbrand (Violin), Ryan Allshouse (drums, percussion). The sound of Brother Down is best described as "Progressive World Folk-Rock" and includes such instrumentation as harmonic vocals, acoustic guitars, electric guitar, double bass, violin, viola, cello, percussion and drums.
Brother Down’s freshman CD, To the Black Land, is a tribute to the many flavors of life they have tasted over the past decade and whose lyrics span the spectrum of the colors of Christian experience. These musicians seek to bring an element of literary, poetic, and theological excellence to the music world, an excellence that, they believe, more and more Christian artists are pursuing by providing a connection between God and His created world, between God and the entire world of experience. With themes addressing intellectual struggles in the college classroom or the thick darkness surrounding a dear friend’s death to a nostalgic musing upon summer’s images or a martyr’s bellowing freedom cry, To the Black Land brings a thoughtful gravity to an often soul-less music world.
The band’s name, Brother Down, encapsulates an amalgamation of meanings. The name was originally inspired from an account in the book of Genesis where one day the light did not shine as Jacob’s sons came to him with a sun-shrouded message from Egypt, from the Black Land, where they had journeyed to find nourishment during a worldwide famine. Dark-soiled from the fertile Nile, Egypt’s “blackness” now loomed before Israel for a wholly different reason: a harsh ruler had demanded that the “spies”, Israel’s sons, “bring [their] brother down” to Egypt to prove their authenticity. The name also refers to our fallen nature in that we all fail and fall. It also is a reference to Christ who came down to Earth wrapped in human flesh.
"Brother Down’s To The Black Land is one of the best independently produced projects I have ever heard. I have received literally thousands of Indie projects over the past ten years and this is one of the best. The lyrics are challenging and thoughtful, the musicianship is excellent, the song crafting is top-notch and the vocal harmonies will cause your jaw to drop. The first time I listened to this project it took a few hours for me to get the entire way through it, I was continually hitting the repeat button to listen to various tracks again and again.... As the album progressed on through the fourteenth track, it became clear that I was listening to a masterpiece of modern music. There is not a filler song on the project. For me, choosing a favorite song is next to impossible. After listening to the project a good twenty times I’ve come to the conclusion that To The Black Land is not one of the best Indie projects I’ve heard in years, this is one of the best projects PERIOD that I have heard. The project is interwoven with hints of folk sounds, Irish influences, Moody Blues-esque string quartet arrangements, some amazing use of syncopation, classical guitar mixed with electric guitars, various percussion instruments and double bass. With all of these musical colors Brother Down manages to create a cohesive Pop-accessible project. It’s a sad fact that in the music world, that the higher the art, the lower the sales. Hopefully projects such as To The Black Land will help to turn that trend around… Perhaps artistry and Pop music are able coexist after all." --Craig Mason (former A&R Director for Word/Squint Records and current president of indieforce.com)
"Simply put, this is the best independent disc I’ve heard for a while. Brother Down almost invents a new genre: acoustic progressive music. Their sounds mixes Jars of Clay, Kansas, Queensryche, Extreme, and others into a melting pot, and manages not to lose the best elements of each. “Freedom” is one of the strongest tracks. Based on the book Tortured for Christ by Richard Wurmbrand, it is strongly reminiscent of Rich Mullins’ Canticle of the Plains:
I’m in love with freedom
I’m in love with wide blue open sky
I’m in love with a life poured forth
From a Servant’s pierced side
I’m a slave with freedom
I am free, though body they may bind
‘Cause my name is written on the hand
Of the Man who was before there was time.
“Love Speaks” features strong vocals by Chris Reno, backed with acoustic guitar and violin, which lends the tune a Kansas-like feeling. “Attic” is another standout, a lot like Jars of Clay’s first two albums. “Captain,” which deals with restoration, is rife with harmonies. “Emancipation,” viewed as Christ speaking to Peter, is an acoustically based number that is richly layered, and would be a great piece of ear candy, if not for the poignant nature of its lyrics. To the Black Land stands as a breakthrough debut for Brother Down. It is much more polished than most first efforts, and makes me hope for more from this band." --Brian A. Smith (Phantom Tollboth)
"A beautiful and interesting acoustic pop album to say the least, it's refreshing to hear this band write for the sake of creating, not to fit their songs to radio." --Russ Breimeier (Christianitytoday.com)