Fair Warning - Brother's Keeper
Frontiers Records
Melodic Hard Rock
13 songs (70:17)
Release year: 2006
Fair Warning, Frontiers Records
Reviewed by Mike

Fair Warning are back after a substantial layoff with their fifth studio album, Brother's Keeper. For many Fair Warning fans, the fifth studio album from the band is something most of were confident that we'd never see. After the release of 4, Fair Warning broke up, and the members floated into 2 different bands. Singer Tommy Heart formed Soul Doctor, while other members of Fair Warning reemerged as Dreamtide. Both bands naturally featured some traits of Fair Warning, although neither duplicated the Fair Warning sound. Soul Doctor was hard rock band along the lines of AC/DC or Krokus, while Dreamtide was similar stylistically to Fair Warning, but with a much different vocalist than Tommy Heart. At any rate, things have come full circle with Fair Warning. With Brother's Keeper, the band picks up right where they left off with 4.

Although I had read interviews with the band in which they promised a heavier approach to this new album, Brother's Keeper does feature a lot of softer, laid back moments. In fact, I'd say it's quite a bit softer than 4, with a lot of elements from Rainmaker evident throughout the album. I don't mind that so much, but the lack of innovative songwriting is a real problem here. The musical style is very much in line with 4, but the songs here sound like the leftovers from the 4 sessions that were not good enough to make that album. Many of the slower songs are decent, but the sheer number of laid back tracks really drags down the pace of the album, making it a bit tedious after many listens. More importantly, these songs don't "speak" to me like older Fair Warning songs were able to do. More on that in a bit.

Don't Keep Me Waiting and Generation Jedi start off the album with typical, uptempo Fair Warning cuts. From the get go, it's clear that the guys haven't changed the core of their sound. Their unique guitar tone and the passionate hard rock vocals of Tommy Heart haven't skipped a beat or changed a bit. However, it doesn't take the band long to deliver the first ballad of the album with All of My Love. It's a decent to good ballad, but not great like Tell Me I'm Wrong or One Step Closer. Fair Warning have always been able to pull off a good ballad, so I would have hoped for more here. The balance of the album does shift too far into the balladesque / laid back mid tempo direction for my tastes, however. Rainbow Eyes is catchy, groovy mid tempo track. The chorus could have been better, but it's a nice follow up to All My Love. Push Me On picks up the pace a bit more with some flashy guitar work and addictive melodies throughout. This is certainly an album highlight so far. Just when the album gains some steam, it is all deflated with another ballad, Wasted Time. This one is soulful and well performed, but I was really hoping for the album to build upon the string of strong rock anthems for another song or two. In fairness this song may have benefited by a more strategic running order, as it actually is pretty good on it's own merits. The Cry follows up, and it is slow to mid tempo bluesy track that really lacks a big hook and a strong chorus. Aside from that, there is some nice guitar work to be heard and Tommy's vocal performance is superb, but it's not enough to make it a great song overall. After may listens to the album, I found that I started to seriously lose interest at about this point in the album. The rest of the album continues along by crucnhing out a few more mid tempo tracks. Tell Me Lies in probably the biggest highlight from the second half of the album. It has a nice energy to it, combined with a sense of melody and passionate vocals. However, songs like Once Bitten, Twice Shy and In The Dark are more representative of the last half of the album. These songs are of the laid back mid tempo variety. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but as with other songs on the album, there's not much to sink your teeth into; no energy, catchiness, or emotion. I'm not saying that these songs are bad per se, but they just kind of pass by without any fanfare, giving you no reason to want to play them repeatedly.

As I alluded to above, the significant majority of songs on this album just don't "speak" to me. Aside from a couple of highlight moments, none of the songs on this album really stands out. I always admired Fair Warning albums in the past for their ability to really speak to me with a sense of passion and urgency. Even with the slower songs, Fair Warning was able to deliver them with a certain power that just demanded repeated listens. The phenomenal debut album and the different, but still excellent 4 still receive large amounts of play time in my stereo because of this. This feeling is what I miss most about this album. The songs on Brother's Keeper simply pass by one by one, uneventfully. As a result, I've realized that Brother's Keeper will have very little lasting power for me. After many listens, the songs just blend together, with the unavoidable feeling of sameness settling in rather quickly. Brother's Keeper definitely lacks the punch of Four and the debut, but it also lacks the character and inventiveness and expression of Rainmaker. The band sounds stale on this album, and the repetitiveness of the songs is tedious, maybe even a bit forced or contrived at times. Despite some of the negative things I've said, I'm certainly glad to see Fair Warning back in action. The individual performances are great, and they haven't changed their style at all. However, the quality of the songs just isn't up to speed. Perhaps the band needed this reunion album to knock the cobwebs off. I certainly hope they find a way to bring back the passion and personality to their music with their next offering. When looking at this album for what it is, I have to call it a huge disappointment by Fair Warning standards.

Killing Songs :
Don't Keep Me Waiting, Generation Jedi, Tell Me Lies
Mike quoted 53 / 100
Other albums by Fair Warning that we have reviewed:
Fair Warning - Live & More reviewed by Danny and quoted no quote
Fair Warning - 4 reviewed by Chris and quoted 90 / 100
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