In the last 8 years he has released an impressive 6 albums in the studio and 5 live. In addition, he has become a mainstay for festivals all across the North American continent as well as within his home country of Australia. Xavier Rudd is an artist that is well known for his ability to synthesize and merge assorted genres from around the world; notably reggae, folk, blues, jazz, Caribbean and African sounds. In addition to that he is well known for his socially conscious themes and an almost John Lennon like way of portraying big-picture optimism – even when addressing the negative. He is a substantial advocate for Australian Aboriginals and Native American peoples, and commonly integrates their vocals into his songs. Xavier is actually widely reputed for his talent at playing the central instrument of the Australian aboriginal peoples, the didgeridoo; at times having many of them, of varying pitch, at his disposal as he sings/plays the guitar while performing live.
Xavier’s latest album is Koonyum Sun. It is different from those prior in that he has fully incorporated the musical styling of South African bassist Tio Moloantoa and drummer Andile Nqubezelo, hence this album being released under the band name of Xavier Rudd & Inzintaba. This addition of “Inzintaba” has really added a degree of vocal dynamism in the album that wasn’t as present on Xavier’s earlier material. Also, the addition of the other two band members has given the trio an energy and a deft ability to seamlessly move-through & incorporate different genres, a talent which none of them would have been able to accomplish at the same level solo.
Koonyum Sun really shines when it uses “funk’ified reggae” beats and then layers upon that other genres. There are other songs that employ western pop/rock with subtle African/Carribean undertones, and others that take on a skipping-blues feel or even subtle psychedelia. On this album Xavier’s voice, like the music overall, is akin to Paul Simon’s (specifically from his Graceland album) in the vocal pace can pleasantly fall somewhere between talking and all out singing. It is also similar to Graceland in that it has created a timeless feel through combining worldly genres, and in doing so truly offers something for everyone. Koonyum Sun is a term that refers to the ascending sun in New South Wales, a symbol of rebirth and revival. And due to its mastery, it should only serve to reinvigorate the Xavier Rudd following, and rightfully so.
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Sean Brna | Editor