I’ve been following the career of rootsy rocker Xavier Rudd for the better part of a decade without ever fully embracing the music of the Australian export. While his white-guy reggae (tinged with some psychedelia) goes over pretty well live, I find that his studio albums — with the expection of 2007’s “White Moth” and 2008’s “Dark Shades of Blue” — don’t make much of an impression.
For latest release “Nanna,” Rudd serves as frontman for a host of acclaimed world musicians, dubbed The United Nations. It makes for a compelling listen with melodies from Australia, New Guinea, Germany, South Africa and Samoa.
The one-two opening punch of “Flag” and “While I’m Gone” gets the 13-track release off to a strong start, and Rudd & The United Nations also score with “Come People,” the title track, “Hammer,” “Warrior” and “Struggle.” At more than 54 minutes, “Nanna” overstays its welcome by about 10 minutes but these are songs that I expect will be terrific when performed live. (Jeffrey Sisk)