By Catherine P. Lewis
Friday, October 26, 2012
Australian singer and multi-instrumentalist Xavier Rudd continues to embrace the Earth on his seventh studio release, “Spirit Bird.” The album channels his hippie spirit by nesting samples of birds and whales, weaving Aboriginal chants into several tracks and maintaining his lyrical themes of caring for the planet.
The result is a trancelike collection of folk songs. Rudd creates a hypnotic instrumental base and then layers his breezy vocals on top. The tender “Mystery Angel” is a sweet lullaby accompanied by a tribal rhythm on a slit drum. On the pensive title track, Rudd is joined by the chant of a children’s choir.
Even at his feistiest moments, Rudd sounds mellow. On “Bow Down,” he mentions the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill and covers a list of do’s and don’ts for the health of the planet, alternating lilting verses with passionate choruses.
“Spirit Bird,” however, is just a bit too relaxed. Long instrumental jams set the mood for Rudd’s granola vibe, as he plays instruments ranging from guitar and keyboards to yidaki (didgeridoo), but these trancelike moments can feel like unnecessary filler. The 10-minute track “Full Circle” shows Rudd’s prowess at creating a rolling, plucked guitar melody. But he sounds lost in his own world, and it’s often difficult for a listener to join him there.