If the name of the band seems to indicate an inclination towards spiritual suggestion, it’s probably no accident. My Brother’s Keeper share songs that seem to aim for a higher meaning while also keeping bound to humble circumstance. A five piece band — the line-up consists of brothers Titus Luckhaupt (mandolin, guitar, whistle, and vocals), Benjamin Luckhaupt (guitar, vocals) and Joshua Luckhaupt (fiddle, harmonica, vocals) along with a presumptive brother, Wyatt ‘Sawmill’ Murray (bass, vocals) — they make good use of that family synergy and the natural harmony and compatibility that come with it.
The quartet’s latest album, Suburban Cowboy, offers another fine example of their nuanced approach and an ability to create an emphatic impression without the need for overly amplified arrangements. That allows for a series of tender tales, flush with homespun homilies, and some sweetly distilled sentiment. While the album title may seem to relate to another cowboy — that being Urban Cowboy and the popular film of 40 years back — the sentiments expressed are considerably more subdued. No one will think about riding a mechanical bull or corralling a bucking bronco after any lingering listen.
What comes through instead are heavenly harmonies (Somewhere There’s a Place for Me), folksy fitness (the title track), an occasional mournful melody (In the Badlands, You Are Faithful Beyond Words, I Come Running), and an abundance of unpretentious and unassuming songs (Completely, I Want To Go Home, Somewhere There’s a Place For Me). So too, My Brother’s Keeper excels when it comes to adept instrumentation, courtesy of the sublime arrangements that color the album overall. Titus Luckhaupt’s mandolin is often a dominant element in the proceedings — the adroit instrumental Prairie Dawg is but one example — but here again, the music allows each of the players to find a compatible place in the mix.
The results resonate in the messages shared through the music. For example, the song Everyone I Know Is Sick isn’t about the spread of COVID, but rather the need for people to take responsibility for keeping the world settled and secure from unnecessary disruption. Untitled Hymn, the song that follows, advances that same sense of serenity, allowing for a calm and caress that are both wise and reassuring. So too, Your Love Divine, with its billowing harmonies and its uplifting engagement, is a genuinely affecting offering as well.
Ultimately, Suburban Cowboy is an album that My Brother’s Keeper can tout with pride, 19 tracks filled with spirituality, sensitivity, and circumspection. It’s a considerable accomplishment, and one that’s filled with a genuinely positive perspective besides.