David Rudder

Lyrics Man

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Lyrics Man is a hard title to argue with, because David Rudder's command of words really separates him from the rest of the Trinidad music pack -- no small feat since soca and calypso are styles that place very high value on tale-spinning ability. He's got the same kind of three-R trinity -- righteousness, rebellion, and romance -- as Bob Marley, another positive soul rebel with social consciousness on a pan-Caribbean (if not global) scale and a keen observer of street-level detail. Rudder is one of a handful of artists who can stand up to that dangerous comparison to Marley -- he's a born songwriter and a master craftsman of choruses and hooks that find fresh variations on soca formulas. "Heaven" is an excellent opener, blending a sax solo and very literate wordplays that move into protest against continuing genocide, like Rwanda, sparked by ignoring past ones. But the underlying tone is philosophical and calls for commitment -- humanitarian and not ideological. "Another Day in Paradise" mixes up the rhythm groove and throws in a bit of Trinidad-adapted rap vocals, while "Ballad of Hulsie X" effectively plays a vocal melody, spiraling down into a bass riff response moving on up. "Wining Season" is a vibrant celebration of carnival season and "Club Hysteria" is one of several Rudder songs celebrating Trinidad club life in full carnival frenzy, with snappy horns over the loping, up-tempo soca beat. Some lyrical references will only make sense to those familiar with Trinidad life, but Rudder's skilled wordplay and the diverse musical contexts he places them in make that a moot point. It's just the local milieu that nurtures and inspires David Rudder and so richly flavors the music on the excellent Lyrics Man.

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