Xavier Rudd: Dark Shades of Blue

By: Trevor Pour

Occasionally I encounter a work that so eloquently describes the human condition that my futile attempts to capture its essence in a review seem almost absurd. This album is one such work.

Xavier Rudd's Dark Shades of Blue (released August 19 on Anti) is an absolute tour de force and unequivocally his most powerful work to date. Listeners will immediately sense a change in tone; There's a heavy, brooding element to most tracks, something not heard so overtly in earlier releases. The use of strong, raw, primarily electric riffs are foreign to the perceived carefree nature which made Rudd a hit many years ago. But beneath, or perhaps within, this rough stratum lays a deeper and significantly more intimate artist. Never before has Rudd produced an album that so fluently translates his ideals and perspective through pure sound.

From the opening bars of the first track, "Black Water," the album immediately delves into the powerful, heavy instrumentals that define it. "Black Water," also the title of his wife's painting which adorns the album cover, is both a moving and fitting visual representation of Rudd's creation. While essentially a slow metal ballad, the track retains enough of Rudd's signature sound to make it uniquely his- a trait revisited throughout the disc. After a few minutes, it seamlessly transitions into the title track, an equally weighty but vocally strewn onslaught. One standout amongst the general excellence is the beautiful and emotional "Guku," which doesn't exactly provide a contrast to the rest of the album, but instead complements the power and sincerity of the previous, more heavy-handed pieces. "Edge of the Moon" and "The World As We Know It" are more akin to traditional Rudd: upbeat with higher tones and toe-tapping rhythms. Still, both contain elements of the heavier distortion which gives Dark Shades of Blue such great consistency.

"Shiver" is arguably the best track on the album, a long delicate piece with choir vocals designed to give you the sensation it implies. Despite the gentle nature of "Shiver," it retains the power and intensity present on the remainder of the album. The following track, "Uncle," manages to gradually transform this fragile-natured piece into a full-blown blitz of charging guitar and pounding percussion over the course of eight exquisite minutes. Again, this track highlights how well Rudd has written his music to suit both his lyrics and his intentional album flow. This vigor continues on "Up in Flames," which rocks without a break from start to finish, replete with the kind of excess energy that brought Rudd into many lives. This track will get a lot of playtime in your car, guaranteed.

Dark Shades ends with a pair of slower, slightly more personal pieces, "Hope You'll Stay" and "Home!" The latter is a touching look at the world as a strange, sometimes sad yet beautiful place to live. He soberly sings, "I recognize my health/ things that I have been dealt/ places that I have roamed/ and feelings I've had,and things that I've known." This is Xavier Rudd captured in a single song, reflecting on those perspectives that make him such a strong artist and global citizen.

Dark Shades of Blue establishes the closest connection between Rudd's spirit and his sound of any release to date. There is an element of truth evident in Dark Shades of Blue which serves to confront the bleak realities of the human condition while elucidating the sparks of love, hope and unity that remain constant even in dark times. This voyage to the edge of darkness adds legitimacy - both artistic and philosophical - to Rudd's message of positivity and kindness. I simply cannot speak highly enough of this album.

JamBase | Middle of Things
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[Published on: 8/19/08]

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‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^› {¬¿¬} starstarstarstarstar Tue 8/19/2008 05:55AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^›      {¬¿¬}

he lets some anger out on this one. its a good balance between his usual tunes mixed with some pretty dark angry #'s too. Try UP IN FLAMES, its smokin!!!

RothburyWithCheese starstarstarstarstar Tue 8/19/2008 08:03AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Bad ass...

phunkle starstarstarstarstar Tue 8/19/2008 09:39AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Just listened to it for the first time and it is def more foreboding and dark than his previous stuff, but I like it. You can tell the tint on his rose-colored glasses may ahve changed a little. Seeing him in DC & Asheville next month and can't wait to hear this new material live.

RothburyWithCheese starstarstarstarstar Tue 8/19/2008 01:15PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


phunkle: here's a thumbs out just for your avatar pic.

jalew Tue 8/19/2008 01:30PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Just listened to this album and I was surprised a bit by the dark tones. That said, this album is sick! His music has definitely grown on me the past few years. Of course, he is always great to see live. Nice review. Thanks Jambase.

sschaffner starstarstarstar Tue 8/19/2008 04:47PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


bad ass is right, this guy is amazing. see him live! whatever you're doing the night he's in town, or within driving distance, cancel your plans and go see him live. xavier will be your new best friend.

E.Book Wed 8/20/2008 12:31PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


"I simply cannot speak highly enough of this album."

I couldn't agree more.I went out and bought this album yesterday and was pleasently surprise by how diffrent the sound was but still essentially the Xavier Rudd we all know and love. The way he brings emotion to life through his music is amazing. Very seldom does and artist change up their style and I immediatly like it. Normally when an artist will do that it will take me a little to get use to it and finally put it up there with the rest of the music. Dark Shades of Blue was not the case at all. Simply beautiful!

I am looking forward to hear them played live at his St.Louis show.

Muffinman1 Wed 8/20/2008 05:45PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


xavier is so bad ass. He make the 'doos sound like percussion. Go see him live. Especially with his drummer. Last year was the first time I saw him with his new drummer, and they were doing some really dark danceable jams,(if that makes sense at all). So cool.

Ezalis starstarstarstarstar Thu 8/21/2008 10:19AM
-1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

I remember seeing him in Orlando half a year ago and hearing this sick song that got everyone moving and was just the most amazing song live. I hoped it would be on his next song and here is is "Up in Flames". It completely captures the energy of his live shows. Xavier Rudd is one of my favorite live shows ever.

sweetcreamconfuzor starstar Fri 8/22/2008 07:34AM
-1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

i didnt like this as much as white moth