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Xavier Rudd's New Album "Nanna" Reviewed

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Review of 'Nanna' by Xavier Rudd

Xavier Rudd Nanna CD

Xavier Rudd has always blended new flavors into his music. On Darker Shades of Blue he incorporated blues and heavy electric guitar; on Spirit Bird, he integrated some special effects to accentuate his didgeridoo playing. On his new album, Nanna, he's pulled back from didgeridoo playing in favor of reggae riddims.

Even though Nanna was made with Xavier's new band, The United Nations, the focus remains on him. Xavier channels some classic Bob Marley-style singing while The United Nations provide a rich tapestry of worldly instruments –– native flutes, guitars, drums and dual backup singers, which round out his signature wail.

The United Nations fall a little bit short at times. Although they provide depth to Xavier's sound, they rarely get to shine. On the title track, Nanna, we hear the flute open up with some great atmospheric playing, but other than that there isn't much emphasis on the other players. Another qualm is that the didgeridoo is largely absent on this album. It appears on tracks like Rusty Hammer and Creancient, but only for a brief moment before fading beneath The United Nations.

Xavier has clearly elevated his studio production. The new sonic delivers an arena sound which is interesting given the messages he wants to convey. At times it's overdone and detracts from the music (as heard on Nanna, when a vocal echo effect continues endlessly beneath the track like a trickling stream).

The album has its highlights, though. Xavier Rudd hasn't abandoned his soulful singing or funky playing, and you can tell that he's just having the time of his life with The United Nations. Rainbow Serpent is one of the standout tracks –– a mellow, slow-burning song that introduces some nice guitar melody while Xavier sings softly of spirits returning to the Rainbow Serpent of Australian aboriginal lore. On Flag, he comes in on a thumping drum beat with a festival-shaking chorus. Bundagen sees Xavier return to the lonesome folk singing of his sophomore album, Solace. It's a bittersweet moment, and good to see him touch back on his roots.

Hopefully we'll see a return to didgeridoo soon, or at least a renewed focus. Until then, I'm more than content to listen to Xavier's soulful world reggae fusion.

Ethan Pettus / LA Outback Didgeridoos

Have a Listen to 'Come People' from 'Nanna'

Pre-order 'Nanna' and other Xavier Rudd merch HERE!

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