New Day Dawning is a reissue of David Rudder's 1990 album, but neither the new name or the addition of two live tracks that you'd never know were live can mask the fact it was always one of his weakest efforts. His singing is fine, but the lyrics celebrating South African independence fall down in their Pan-African diaspora cheerleading and allow Rudder's sentimental side to dominate too much. The musical arrangements are pretty rudimentary, lacking horns and his customary blending of other styles into the soca base. The upbeat, buoyant "Fire in the Laager" has horns and a reggae-tinged bassline and "Down at the Shebeen" maintains the upbeat, buoyant mood. "Amandla Ngawethu" is straight rap and "Johannesburg Woman" is a nice romantic song with an almost soul bassline, but that's about it for highlights. Calypso and soca were historically regarded as "the people's newspaper," but the lyrics on New Day Dawning sound like they were written from newspaper accounts. The stories simply lack the lived-in flavor that usually makes David Rudder such a compelling artist.
AllMusic Review by Don Snowden