Xavier Rudd ‘Spirit Bird’: Listen, listen closely and listen with an open heart

I saw Xavier Rudd live at the Hurricane a couple of years ago, it was one of the unexpected finds that you occasionally get on a festival and the atmosphere of the show was insane. Everyone was dancing and sweating, it was more of a rave (I’ve never been to one so I have to go by movies and Loveparade documentaries) but without the drugs (at least from my side). There is a really intense energy in his live music when he gets into percussion and with his newest album he has really captured it, especially with the opener “Lioness Eye”.

But that’s far from his signature sound, Xavier Rudd is more than that and Australia remains a place where music really seems to be able to breath and develop into all directions.

I love Xavier, there you have someone who really is invested in his music and does it from somewhere deep deep within.

There is this mixture of Blues and the deep roots of Australien folk music that is a lot more than just relaxed surf music, there is way too much soul in it and the political topics he talks about are not to be taken lightly, somehow, he’s the tanned, Australian version of Willy Mason if you ask me but no one does, so whatever. Although – and I always say this when I really like something – he also sounds a lot like Peter Gabriel, especially with the urgency in his voice, this compassion and sadness over things that shouldn’t be that way. The title track “Spirit Bird” for example, it feels so free but carries a melancholic weight and by the time the kid’s choir sets in, you’re already too teary-eyed to mind the cheesiness of the moment because it feels right.

I think when it comes to sounds, you could call it world music (although I always use that as kind of a curse word for drum circles), it just connects through the use of very Western song structures and instruments and vocals that are more old-fashioned and relate to the native Australians who Xavier constantly adresses because apparently their stand in contemporay Australia is still far from equal to that of the, ahem, “Australians”.

For the album, Xavier used sounds from Australian animals, chants and also soundbites from speeches, so there is a naturally open feel to the album that makes it feel as if you are sitting in a circle around the fire and Xavier tells his story like one of the great storytellers who have the respect of the whole tribe as stories carry wisdom and are needed to build a society. Together with his electric guitar, this becomes a passionate statement that desperately needs a wider audience. Seriously, people, if you can give supernerd Gotye attention (and I say that with all the love I have for Gotye, supernerds are the best in music) then please do the same for Xavier, there is music that needs to reach people because it can bring change and this is it.

Oh God and because I don’t even have it on here (what is wrong with this blog? Who writes this incomplete mess?), here’s the reason why I fell in love with him. It’s so simple and lovely but it’s so strong at the same time. Just like me…haha.


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