Rusty Anderson has played in a handful of bands over the years (most notably Ednaswap and Animal Logic), but he's best known as a sideman and a session musician, having worked with the likes of Paul McCartney, Elton John, Santana, and Jewel. On his first solo album, Undressing Underwater, Anderson was able to call in a few favors and persuade a few of his former employers (most notably McCartney and Stuart Copeland) to help him out. But Anderson's second effort, 2010's Born on Earth, demonstrates that he doesn't need marquee names to make a worthwhile album. Born on Earth follows the same path as Undressing Underwater, which is to say it's all over the map -- you get pop tunes decorated by both strings and big roaring guitars (the title cut), grandiose orchestral pop melodies ("Baggage Claim"), easygoing bachelor pad grooves ("Julia Roberts"), electric grooves bolstered by Auto-Tuned vocals and vintage synthesizers ("Funky Birthday Cake"), introspective folk-pop ("Where Would We Go?"), and not readily classifiable instrumental thundering ( "Intro"). The common threads between these 11 songs are Anderson's sure hand with a melody, his witty and slightly off-kilter lyrical perspective, and his considerable gifts as a player. Anderson's guitar solos sound both passionate and intelligently constructed on these sessions, and he handles an impressive share of the additional accompaniment himself, while the extra hands on deck show that he has learned a few valuable things about choosing sidemen. Born on Earth is canny, intelligent music with a rocker's sense of drama and brawn sitting side by side with a popmeister's knack for the clever hook and smart lyrical conceit; it's fun music that never slights your intelligence or your appetite for the grand gesture.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Mark Deming