The Brilliance “All is Not Lost” Album Review


Prime Cuts: Gravity of Love, Night Has Passes/Morning Has Broken, Turning Over Tables

The Brilliance is an iconoclast. If you are looking for music crystallized into predictable icons, stay clear of this new record.  "All is Not Lost" isn't just your average album of songs with those big anthemic choruses coupled those recycled pedantic words.  Rather, what you get is a creative endeavour where the fuzzy organic sounds of Mumford and Sons and the crisp metallic pop sheen of Bruno Mars meet.  The Brilliance sounds up to par with any contemporary band out there but there's still a ring of sepia-tone nostalgia that makes them sound irresistibly new yet old. Following in the footsteps of left-of-center worship teams such as Gungor and Rend Collective, the Brilliance, in short, have often colored outside the lines as far as worship music is concerned. 

The Brilliance comprises of David Gungor (brother of Michael Gungor of the Gungor fame) and John Arndt. The duo started making music in 2010, with the release of a self-titled album, The Brilliance, on October 19, 2010.  They quickly followed it up with a few more Eps, before they caught the attention of Integrity Music.  With the worship music imprint behind them, they released their critically acclaimed record, "Brother," in 2015.  Almost three years later, the duo releases "All is Not Lost."

While "Brother" leans towards the more esoteric side with few concessions made towards singability, "All is Not Lost" is a tad more congregationally driven.  This means that the tunes this time round are more accessible.  One could, for instance, envision a track like "Gravity of Love" being sung in church.  Taking its inspiration from Psalm 121, "Gravity of Love" like the Psalm is a pilgrimage ode to God who holds our life's journey together.  Likewise, the string-laced "See the Love" has an instantaneous appeal made even more ear-grabbing with its Enya's "A Day Without Rain" styled chorus.  Juggling the new and old seamlessly (both lyrically and musically) together is the newly written "Night Has Passes" and the hymn "Morning Has Broken."

What the song "Brother" is to the preceding album is "Turning Over the Tables" to this record. Featuring a pseudo-disco jamming beat intertwined with a Doo-Wop charm, "Turning Over the Tables" is an eye-opener of how love manifests between God's children can be the church's secret weapon in winning the world to Christ.  However, the momentum loses towards the middle of the album.  "Who is Jesus" with its icy metallic gothic feel tries too hard to be innovative only to be let down by the song's want of a melody.  "Hear Our Prayers," likewise, suffers from being too cheesy with those horrid 80s-sounding Pat Benator guitar riffs.  The album picks up again with the hymn-like "Holy Holy" which features a female vocalist who has a voice that pierces the soul. 

Though not perfect, "All is Not Lost" is more nuanced for a larger audience.  Worship leaders who want to expand their repertoire may even find a few offerings here ("Gravity of Love" and "Holy Holy") suitable for congregational worship.  And for those who are tired of the same-old worship clicks, they will treasure the Brilliance for their creativity, their ingenuity, and their Biblically informed words.             


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