This singer-songwriter-multi-instrumentalist brings clear vision, personality, and an independent attitude to his beguiling songs. His debut is a collection of soulful melodies and dense instrumental textures that takes the work of classic singer-songwriters as template (he’s a professed Paul Simon fan). An advocate of Aboriginal rights, Rudd also admires the dense simplicity of Aboriginal music, often building his songs from his bare soles on a wooden resonator box and the breath humming in his didgeridoo.
Based on musical transgressions committed by the likes of Jamiroquai–well, okay, only Jamiroquai-some might say the didgeridoo has no place in rock ‘n’ roll. An avowed fan of Paul Simon’s Graceland, however, Xavier Rudd continues to seek redemption for the much-maligned instrument from his Australian homeland on his sixth full-length release, Food in the Belly, an earthy collection of roots-rock tunes that also sees the one-man-band champion everything from wind chimes and tubas to ankle bells and tablas. On slow-percolating tracks like “Messages” and “Pockets of Peace,” the part-time surfer seems to share not only Jack Johnson’s laidback delivery style but passive preachiness: “So speak out loud/ Of the things you are proud/ And if you love this coast/ Then keep it clean as it hopes.” Fans of Michael Franti and Ben Harper wouldn’t go amiss. –Aidin Vaziri