When you’ve known someone since you were eleven, it’s practically impossible to see anything they’ve created in an objective light. So I’m not even going to try with the album Brother by Daniel Duke. Instead, let me tell you how it makes me feel.
With each chord played and lyric sung, I see and hear my friend. Brother is the accumulation of years worth of experiences and hard work, and the songs tell me of those years.
As the title track Brother plays I see James and Daniel, laughing and playing together, I see their other family members joining them, black labs running around everyone. I remember evenings spent in their easy company and the welcome of their home, boardgames lasting well into the night and the threads of friendship that still endure.
The tracks play through and I am reminded of things long past; of three young boys playing to a small group of friends in their school gym; of those same boys, older now, confidently playing to a larger group in a street, the energy around them energetic and joyful. I see the smiling face of the girl who speaks Spanish and the smirk of the boy who broke her heart. I hear James teasing me, Daniel laughing at my ineffective retort, I remember what it was to be a teenager and know time has rose-tinted my feelings somewhat. In the smooth transitions between tracks I can see the hand of James, producing music as effortlessly as he plays the guitar.
The Sparrow & the Needle starts and it is impossible for me not to hear Daniel’s voice telling the story of how it came to be written. His guitar is comfortable across his chest, beads of sweat glistening on his forehead from the effort of preforming. I hear the amusement in his voice and the rumble of chuckles from the audience as his joke goes well. I see the sticky room of the club I last saw him play him in and I smell bodies slightly too close for comfort.
There is the constant reminder that Daniel is a romantic at heart, Aster conjuring up the wild beauty in the hills of home for me, and along with Kiss Me in the Dark, bursting with memories of our past loves, conversations about those things, and the love that he’s now found. A love so easily expressed in Tell Me Once and The Likes of Love.
Listeners who are not me will not feel these things. They are part of my personal experience, shaped by my life. Nevertheless this album will connect with you emotionally, remind you of your own family, your own friends, and your own experiences in love.
The last note lingers in my memory after the album has run its course, and I do not know if the emotion I feel is from the quality of the music or the pride I have for Daniel. I don’t think I ever will.
The album is available to pre-order on iTunes: http://bit.ly/Brotheritunes
Or you can get a physical copy here: http://danielduke.bigcartel.com/