Raine Maida – [Album]

Thursday, 27 December 2007

"It'll never work in theory, but it works in practice," is how the saying goes and, truly, no record released recently exemplifies that principle better than Raine Maida's solo debut. Other than Maida's own vocals, there's not a solitary thing about The Hunters Lullaby that resembles the body of work that the singer has amassed with Our Lady Peace—stripped of guitar heroism and soaring melodies, the album relies more on raw acoustic guitars, stark arrangements, poignant lyrics and incisive criticisms along with a healthy dose of hip-hop.

Stop right there—does anyone else smell a potential contrivance?

The idea of a rock musician turning to hip-hop for a novel change of pace is not a new one (Tommy Lee's Methods of Mayhem comes to mind), but happily, Maida ignores the temptation to pack The Hunters Lullaby with clichés and approaches both hip-hop and rock music in a different way. The lyric sheets to these ten songs read (and sound) more like Ani DiFranco's more syncopated and poetic tracks and, when combined with the hymnal qualities afforded by a group of low-registered back-up singers, the songs take on a dark, late-night confessional quality that's incredibly intimate.

The singer only succumbs to novelty twice on the album. On "The Snake and the Crown," Maida falls back on his rock roots and tries to see if he can make it as a rock act without OLP (blessedly, it only happens once) and dives nose first into callow cabaret on "Confessional" (that, given the delivery, does everything but) before rising from the potential wreckage those tracks imply with "One Second Chance"—an elegant, angry indictment of popular culture at large that's positively scintillating.

That Hunters Lullaby manages to sidestep a mine field of clichés, most of the record is, by the end, incredibly gratifying; it suddenly becomes plausible that not all sonic departures are done with dollars in mind. After the disappointments that the two Our Lady Peace albums turned out to be, it was apparent that Raine Maida needed a change and, defying all probability, he's found a great one in the unlikeliest of places.

The Hunters Lullaby is out now on Nettwerk.

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