Imagine if Devendra Banhart wasn't trying so hard to be a psychedelic pixie, or if Tyrannosaurus Rex-era Marc Bolan had somehow been reincarnated into the body of Jack Johnson or John Mayer. Either way, you'll come up with something close to the intriguingly bizarre debut album by Australia's Xavier Rudd. As a songwriter, Rudd is a spiritual brother to Johnson and Mayer, not to mention the Brits Ed Harcourt and David Gray: A mellow singer/songwriter throwback to the good old days of James Taylor and Cat Stevens, with an additional fondness for reggae that leads him to introduce island rhythms into his songs and cover Bob Marley's "No Woman No Cry." As a singer, however, Rudd possesses this kind of man-child squeak of a voice that's so startling to the listener at first that you'll spend at least half of the rambling opening track, "Shelter," trying to gauge whether or not it's a put-on. The disconnect between the otherwise standard-issue and if anything slightly colorless songs and Rudd's bizarre warble of a voice is immense, and it may well be a deal-breaker for many listeners, but those who accustom themselves to it might find Solace a compelling listen.
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AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason