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Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews

Cover Me

  • reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2002 1 Mar
Cover Me
Sounds like … acoustic pop with strong three-part harmony that recalls everyone from Kansas to NewSong, 4Him, and dc TalkAt a Glance … the new Brother's Keeper album is filled with enjoyable pop-rock, though it's more likely to find an audience with older listeners than the teen and college crowd.

Brother's Keeper began modestly enough as three friends (Phillip Enzor, Gabe Dunlap, and John Sanders) who attended the same high school together and belonged to the same church youth group. The three initially started as an a cappella group, inspired by the likes of 4Him and Boyz II Men. Shortly after college, they were picked up by Ardent Records and released a self-titled debut in 1999 that featured more of a boy-band pop sound. The trio's latest, Cover Me, is a sharp departure from their previous effort, embracing more of a guitar-driven pop-rock sound that recalls numerous other groups. You might say that Brother's Keeper is following in the footsteps of Go Fish, another Christian a cappella group that recently switched to a more conventional pop sound. I don't suppose many of you are familiar with the international acoustic pop group Taxiride either, so let me try to describe what Brother's Keeper has done with this sound here. Imagine the inspirational vocal pop of Christian acts such as NewSong, 4Him, and Phillips, Craig & Dean. Then recall some of the great vocally focused pop-rock acts from the '70s and '80s, such as Kansas and Boston, or more recently, the Christian band Nouveaux. Then top all that off with some occasional R&B-pop leanings reminiscent of dc Talk, and you have the hodgepodge that is Brother's Keeper — a group that somehow makes all-too-familiar pop sounds their own.

"Cover Me," a prayer to rely on God whenever we feel uncertain, is mid-tempo pop/rock at its catchiest with a chorus that will have you humming along in no time. It's a song you can easily picture FFH or NewSong performing, but somehow Brother's Keeper (and producer Kevin Paige) keep it from sounding too much like these other Christian pop acts. Similarly "Take Me to the Cross," a simple acoustic pop song that invites the listener to remember how Christ lived and then to follow in his footsteps, sounds like a Phillips, Craig & Dean song, only not quite as inspirational. "Out of This World" sounds like dc Talk (somewhere in between Free at Last and Jesus Freak), and Brother's Keeper pulls it off without sounding like a rip-off. "Be Like You" is a clever hip-hop-influenced song that finds the band humorously trying to be more like their sports heroes instead of Christ. The hip-hop elements seem kind of "white" at first, until the guys pull off a brief and convincing rap parody in the middle (they end up sounding a lot like Earthsuit). The closing track, "From This Day On," has the power-ballad feel of 4Him's "The Message." But again Brother's Keeper doesn't allow the song to wallow in over-production or sentimentality.

Overall, Cover Me is a pleasant Christian pop album that sounds like a host of other albums we've heard before, but that doesn't diminish my enjoyment of it. You'll swear John Elefante produced this because of the vocals and guitars — hence the comparison to some of Kansas' work. Perhaps part of the reason the songs don't feel too hackneyed is because Christian rock veteran Dana Key co-wrote the majority of them with Brother's Keeper. The next question then is who will enjoy Cover Me the most? Though the production isn't dated-sounding, the musical styles are generally more old school. I can't imagine today's teens and college students (Millennials) getting into Brother's Keeper, but older Gen X-ers and Baby Boomers will likely embrace it as a nostalgic nod to the bands they listened to in the '70s and '80s. Though it's not quite a remarkable album, there's really nothing bad to be said about Cover Me, other than it has familiar sound. There's not a bad track on the album, the pop-rock sound is irresistible, and the vocal harmonies are terrific. I'll be watching Brother's Keeper with curiosity to see how they develop their sound with future releases.