Dark Shades of Blue
Australian musician Xavier Rudd has built a career sounding like Paul Simon, Jack Johnson, and Ben Harper (mixed with a dash of rum and coke). Rudd goes darker, harder, and more psychedelic on his fifth studio album and it pays off handsomely, with a richly textured collection of songs that both lull and stimulate. The beautiful tracks “Hope That You’ll Stay” and “Home” retain the comfy, folky, introspective feel of Rudd’s earlier outings, while the single, “The World As We Know It” cranks out distortion filled, full-blown rock energy — it’s Pearl Jam meets Lenny Kravitz. “Black Water” opens with a spacey, guitar-meets-didgeridoos sequence, full of exotic flavors and enticing rhythms, and slides seamlessly into the title track, which morphs in and out of restrained, sensual Hendrix-styled guitar play and full-bodied, blues-fueled, psych rock. Tracks like “Secrets” and “Edge of the Moon” follow the languid footsteps of “Black Water,” while “Up in Flames” sounds like Rudd recently discovered how to really make his guitar howl. Throughout, various percussion instruments and the steady pulse of standard drums play a key role, but on “Flames” they are the very heart of the song, coaxing the fury out of Rudd’s fretwork. It’s a marvelous song, and a revelatory album.