Surf/roots reached utter saturation in the early ‘00s and although Rudd washed in on that same tide, he has always managed to create something a little different to Jack Johnson and Co. His multi-instrumental approach to both the live setting and the studio has set him apart. Still, when an artist is releasing their seventh studio album and has such a signature sound it is easy to question whether their music is going to entertain as much as those early days. Spirit Bird opens with a stunning soundscape of yidaki and an iconic Australian bush hums. The album pairs uplifting melodies with solemn cultural and spiritual observations and takes Rudd’s social conscience even further. Balancing minimalism (Spirit Bird) with extensive layering (Prosper), each song is given the treatment it deserves without Rudd ever feeling the need to show off his musicianship purely for the sake of it and organic instrumentation is also matched with digital sampling and powerful spoken word, providing a rich contrast. His voice is world-weary and a little more gravelly than the early days of Let Me Be, but it adds to the authenticity of the album and is a testament to Rudd’s enduring dedication to performing live as much as he can. He may be tackling the big issues in his lyrics but Spirit Bird still manages to be inspiring despite its heavy ideas.
BY KRISSI WEISS
Best Track: Bow Down
If You Like These, You’ll Like: MAT MCHUGH, BEN HARPER (Innocent Criminals NOT Relentless7 era), JUZZY SMITH
In A Word: Earthy