Freddy Clarke

Wobbly World

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Guitarist Freddy Clarke has tried to hit a lot of bases with Wobbly World, taking a planetary fusion approach to music that not only features a whole host of instruments from all corners of the cultural spectrum (here Bulgarian gaidas collide with Iranian kanoons and Vietnamese dan baus, for instance), but also includes snatches of lyrics sung in Farci, English, Hindi, French, Punjabi, Urdu, Yoruba, Arabic, and Spanish. That's casting one's net wide. The music itself is bright and flowing, full of a hybrid blend of stylistic flavors that expands and contracts in fascinating ways, a bit like a vibrant, sunny river bouncing along on its way to the sea. As a sonic world tapestry, this album works well, particularly on the kinda silly but well-meaning "Remember the O's" (which is a song about the ozone but there are lyrics about Cheerios, buffaloes, CEOs, videos, stereos and more before the song gets to what it wants to talk about), and the snaky, impressive "Tropanka," but Clarke's singing is at times unfortunately intrusive and sort of glib, especially when he is singing about things like breakfast cereals. The title track, "Wobbly World" (Wobbly World is also the name of Clarke's band), a song about global warming, suffers from the same ailment, with Clarke inserting lines like "eeny meeny miny moe/catch a planet by the toe" into things, and it's hard not to shake one's head as such lyrics go by, especially when the backing track is so bright, bubbly and interesting. Clarke means well, and he instinctively understands how music can help unite diverse cultures and create positive social action, and one can't fault his vision and purpose in making this album. Wobbly World sounds great. It really does. But his lyrics, however well intended, undermine things, until one sort of wishes this were an instrumental album. Wordless, these tracks may well have spoken louder and clearer about the need to unite and act together on a global level.

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