Xavier Rudd & Izintaba – [Album]

Monday, 05 April 2010

It was bound to happen eventually. Over the last decade or so, each of the finest purveyors of laid back, easy-to-like vaguely folk-ish Top 40 fare (like Dave Matthews, Donovan Frankenreiter and Jack Johnson – there are more) has done at least a short stretch absorbing and then reproducing their own brand of reggae, and now Xavier Rudd has joined the club. For Koonyum Sun, Rudd has liquidated his beginnings as an uptown folkie, enlisted a crack backing band of world music performers and adopted their spiritual view which is nothing particularly new but, to their credit, Rudd and Izintaba don't sound so stiff or forced while they do it. The singer's fluid delivery doesn't sound like it's his 'new-thing-that-he-just-had-to-try-right now, it actually sounds like a natural progression. From the opening bump of “Shy To Ground,” Rudd lays out his new plan and direction with Izintaba cleanly, confidently and easily; there are no blunt jumps into Jamaican culture exactly ad those that do appear are not blunt but they do sublimate easily into the outflow. Rudd adapts to the meters and soul-centered delivery required for convincing reggae strains and the band simply does what it does as if they've done it since childhood.

The whole things just roles out easily and methodically.

It isn't hard on the ears either. As the record progresses, the reggae rhythms fade into more adventurous and involved forms of world music almost without listeners noticing (see “Reasons We Were Blessed”) and island-infused R&B (“Love Comes & Goes”) which would seem scattered under normal circumstances but comes off as completely unified here because the real changes made only amount to sideways glances in the songs; the core of Rudd's voice and the spirit that both singer and band represent is solid and unwavering – the exceptions being “Soften The Blow” and the title track – which actually do sound more than a bit like Dave Matthews outtakes.

As the record plays, it gets evermore single-minded in its delivery of raw emotive states (if it's jubilant, there's no hiding it; if it's plaintive, there's no hiding that either), listeners will get excited – but also wonder if this change will be the permanent state for Xavier Rudd. As said previously, many of the singers in Rudd's peer group have veered in the same directions over the last few years, but few ever stay. However, if Xavier Rudd and Izintaba continue along this path and the results are as strong as Koonyum Sun though, fans can hope that the band stalls in this state for a while; it represents all the best elements of the singer's sound condensed into one great record.



Koonyum Sun
comes out April 20, 2010 via Fontana North/Salt X. Pre-order it here on Amazon .

Comments are closed.