By Brian Heisler
After being released in Australia and Canada in 2005 and 2006, respectively, Xavier Rudd's Food In The Belly finally comes out Stateside in 2007. Rudd has been touring for a while with the music from this album, making this new recording that's already a familiar friend to his fans.
Rudd has yet to make a big impact with any of his studio releases. His previous record, Solace, was the best representation of his talents so far. Musically, there is no reason why Solace shouldn't have been a bigger hit in the United States, where he's yet to reach his full potential. Food In The Belly is an excellent follow-up to Solace that's more subtle and personal. The 13-tracks are an even mix of quiet, one-man pleas and simple, positive, energetic pieces. This is the kind of album you play on a porch while sipping lemonade in the calm of a hot summer day.
"Letters" begins eerily quiet but picks up as slide guitar leads into "Messages." The defining song of the album, "Messages" blends Rudd's brilliant singing and musicianship with Neil Golden on tabla and Beth Preston on vocals. It's not just the didgeridoos and the acoustic instruments that sets "Zaves" apart, it's Rudd's vocal range and ability to extend his falsetto with his Australian accent in a soft and bright way. There are many points on this album where Xavier backs off like the calm before a storm and then jumps in with a bouncing melody.
Dave Tolley's snare drum on "Energy Song" is a perfect match for the song's title, creating a friendly, folk feel. The foot-stomping title track is becoming yet another crowd pleaser with its catchy chorus and head-bobbing beat. "Connie's Song" adds Brad Murihead on tuba and producer Tom Simko on banjo and whistle on a pleasant skipping-to-the-waterhole type song. The simple sound of Xavier's music is actually a great measure of his songwriting, only adding what he really feels needs to be in the music.
Each song seems a springboard for future live performances. It is as if the listener is peering through a window only being allowed vision to restricted aspects of Rudd's art. He is an excellent musician, but also a great songwriter, telling thoughtful stories with personable lyrics. Food In The Belly is another stroke of brilliance from this Aussie musician.
JamBase | DownUnder
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