Jude Brothers
render tender / blunder sunder


4.7
superb

Review

by Mathias STAFF
May 17th, 2023 | 10 replies


Release Date: 05/12/2023 | Tracklist

Review Summary: “The ideal way to sing folk music is as yourself.”

It’s a rare occurrence when an album that is decidedly sparse can also be described as incredibly enthralling. Jude Brothers (they/she pronouns), has created an album that seems to be perfectly made for this oxymoronic description. render tender / blunder sunder is largely composed of just their voice and guitar - The sparse aspect may be fairly apparent based on that description alone, but it may not be clear how “enthralling” may apply. However, only a cursory listening of the opening tracks will fully show that Brothers implement these two tools in a way that has created one of the most engaging records released this year, or in any other.

Brothers describes themselves as a vocal shapeshifter. There is a large range of auditory examples of this claim. Think of a word to describe noises that a voice may create, and you’ll find it on render tender / blunder sunder: Powerful belts, whispers, yodels, yelps, hollers, shouts, screams, and more, all through a delivery that is childlike-wonder mixed with a weariness that only comes from living life. Their guitar creates melodies that are at once immediate ear worms while also being (sticking to our contradictory descriptives) quite unconventional most of the time and beautifully simple at others. Pairing this styling with equally out-of-this world vocal melodies takes what is, on its surface, an incredibly simple record and makes it anything but. Any piece of the album can go from incredibly tender to nearly frenzied at any point - The title and layout of each song track, each one two phrases split a backslash, shows that this dichotomy between emotions is not just a feature of the music, but of the album as a whole.

This is not to paint this as some strange folk album that receives raves simply because of its oddity. Oddity may not even be the correct word for Brothers’ work. It is not strange or abstract - It is simply lacking in ordinariness. The album itself is quite beautiful and enchanting. It is incredibly easy to fall under its trance for listen after listen without even realizing how much time has passed. It is reductive to try to compare this work to other artists (both for the sake of Brothers, but also because of the unique talent of these artists in their own rights), but the music of render tender / blunder sunder becomes some sort of amalgamation of Regina Spektor, Joanna Newsom, and the Tallest Man on Earth, all with even more traditional folk standards.

With these comparisons in mind, it is clear as well that Brothers themselves wanted to create a style all their own, but that also pays homage to a number of different influences, albeit some that you may not expect to find in an artist that is coming from Fayetteville, Arkansas. In an interview with the Arkansas Times, Brothers “made references to the critical impact of Bulgarian, Ukrainian, Macedonian, Irish, Ugandan and Javanese music on their artistic development.” Of course, if anything this may paint an even more confusing image in your mind of what their music may be. This is not just theoretical influences, however. One of the only additional instruments added throughout the album is a celtic lever harp, adding yet another dimension of transcendence to the album.

Again, none of this is meant to make this album sound inaccessible or overtly pretentious or full of itself. Brothers has, instead, created what is, at its heart, an incredibly grounded folk album that does everything that you want folk to do. render tender / blunder sunder is, as the artist put themselves, a breakup album, but is also meant to be so much more. It is a rumination on love - Love from others, love of others, and, perhaps most importantly, love of oneself. This is where it may make sense to jump into specific highlight, pulling notable moments or songs, but there doesn’t seem to be a purpose to this, as each song contains a multitude of highlights that are best experienced through listening (another trait that makes this album unique under the folk lens is that, of its 8 full tracks, none fall under four and a half minutes, with five being near six minutes or longer). The lyrics reflect the music, from deep musings to personal reflection to self-deprecation to searingly personal, perfectly fitting the package that they are delivered in.

Again, even with these descriptions of music that explain an artist that is being especially artistic, it is incredibly important to reiterate how approachable of a listen render tender / blunder sunder is. It is accessible, delightful, while also incredibly engaging. The album floats by, not because it is lacking in gravitas, but because of the environment it creates. The album starts with a soundscape, lapping waves and the gentle noises of nature that immediately creates the world that the listener is about to enter - A world to get lost in, in the most beautiful way.




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user ratings (10)
3.5
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
dmathias52
Staff Reviewer
May 17th 2023


1799 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3

Hey y'all - Been a little while. Hoping to be here a little bit more over the summer, new teaching gig and Master's Program has been quite a bit to keep up with.



Also, the summary and other quotes come from https://arktimes.com/rock-candy/2023/05/12/jude-brothers-has-no-secrets-on-their-new-searingly-intimate-breakup-album?fbclid=IwAR2b96peHT9rrkqazHG4tidNFRZnFyPy3G0vEb8gDPM9xsbRewmeCoQmj8g

Anyway - Listen to this and feel to pass along any feedback, as I know I'm quite rusty.

Sunnyvale
Staff Reviewer
May 17th 2023


5974 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Well, I guess I'm checking this next!



Great review and good to have you writing mathias!

dmathias52
Staff Reviewer
May 17th 2023


1799 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3

This is very much up your alley Sunny. I have to do a run through and see what favorites of yours I’ve missed this year!

Sunnyvale
Staff Reviewer
May 17th 2023


5974 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah, enjoying this so far, albeit only a couple minutes in!



A couple 2023 favorites thus far which would probably be your thing as well:



Complete Mountain Almanac

The Golden Dregs

Boygenius

Wednesday

The Tallest Man On Earth

Tiny Ruins

JesperL
Staff Reviewer
May 18th 2023


5507 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

lovely read dmath, hope you're doing well!

will check this, sounds like i may vibe

dmathias52
Staff Reviewer
May 18th 2023


1799 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3

Curious to hear your thoughts Sunny! I've heard some of those (love the new Tallest Man on Earth and Wednesday in particular), but got a couple more to hit



Thanks Jesp! Life is good, just quite busy. But almost summer break! I see you vibing with this for sure.

Squiggly
May 18th 2023


1274 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This looks interesting! Will add to the list!

dmathias52
Staff Reviewer
May 19th 2023


1799 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3

Looking at your ratings I think you’d dig it Squiggly!

JesperL
Staff Reviewer
May 21st 2023


5507 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

summer break hype is real!!

this is super likeable, although i struggle with some of the vocal inflections sometimes. rly cool stuff tho!

Sunnyvale
Staff Reviewer
June 6th 2023


5974 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This rules, coming back to it (after one listen a few weeks back) and I've given it a couple spins today.



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