Album Review: Brothers, by Joe Zambon

Album Review: Brothers, by Joe Zambon


It’s a great treat to review an album that I actually love by a guy it’s impossible not to love.

The album is Brothers, and the artist is Toronto-based Joe Zambon. In full disclosure, Joe is a good friend. He actually took over a job in campus ministry that I was vacating, which gave us the opportunity to become buddies. But on another level I am a true fan, and I probably listen to his albums more often than Catholic music giants like Matt Maher and Audrey Assad. 

Back to the album at hand. In terms of the styles Joe has expressed in his music, I would say that Brothers is a relative to his last album, Sleeper, Rise. Itself an (at the time) atypical Joe Zambon album, one which he described as "for the broken, from the broken", Brothers feels to me like a progression from there. I don’t mean that it is a better album necessarily (truth be told I find them both to be worth many listens). What I mean is that it feels like moving from one place to another.

Sleeper, Rise dealt with the grittiness of human weakness, frailty, and falleness. It was made up of stories of the pain resulting from sin. It breached topics of addiction, abandonment, and abuse. It seemed to ache over the effects of sin, both committed by and committed against.

If Sleeper, Rise is an look inside, and examination of conscience, Brothers is the friend who comes to meet you, pick you up and encourage you on the way. Or it is a person later on in the journey who has endured, lifted up his eyes and seen that brokenness does not necessarily mean hopelessness.

The opening song, "Irish Jig", is so lighthearted and playful that it turns my kids into Mexican jumping beans. They have created games based on this song, mostly involving acting out different animals on demand and doing anything else to keep themselves running around throughout the song’s duration. And it’s lyrics, consisting only of “fa la la la”s and “hey hey!”s is perfect for their attention span.

The soulful "Dead Man Rise" is a call to conversion, paraphrasing some of Ven. Fulton Sheen’s memorable quotes.

You either live what you believe or believe what you live / But a life in sin can justify anything.

"I Just Want Peace" is from the perspective of the sleeper who has just arisen, who is seeing life with new eyes and finding everything short of heaven to be just not enough. The beautifully folky "To Be Loved By You" shares the answer to this hunger.

"Remember the Poor" is a song of solidarity that may be written from the perspective of Pope Francis moments after his election as the successor of Peter.

The angelic tune "Seraphim" may be the most interesting and infectious song on the album. It and the following, "Quis Ut Deus" ("Who is like unto God?”) speak to the awe of angels and men who see themselves relative to the greatness of God  

"Get Better" encourages the bitter soul toward forgiveness and healing, and "Nothing Is Impossible" seals the theme of hope in God which touches everything in the album.

Both of these albums are very eclectic, and they feel like several different voices or stories coming together. You should know that going in and be open to the conversation; you may find it leading you to an introspective and contemplative place.  

Buy this album. Chances are you will have only one complaint, the one my wife has shared a few times.

“I just wish it didn’t go by so fast. Can we listen again or is that too much?..”

Joe Zambon’s Brothers comes out this Friday May 2nd. Join him in Ottawa or Toronto this weekend for release concerts, and get the album here

You may also like: 6 Questions with Joe Zambon

We are giving away 7 autographed copies of Joe's new album at random draw to members of our email list. Sign up to get Canadian Catholic posts and be entered in the draw here.  

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