Saturday, July 18, 2009

Review: Nathen Maxwell and the Original Bunny Gang - White Rabbit

Label: SideOneDummy Records

Released: August 18, 2009

Having performed for over a decade with the increasingly popular Celtic folk/punk act Flogging Molly, Nathen Maxwell is faced with the double challenge of living up to yet not rehashing his band's strong body of work. On his solo debut, White Rabbit, Maxwell brings songs that have been simmering inside of him, some for over a decade, and prepares to meet these challenges involved in stepping outside of his established work.

From the funky opening seconds of the album, it's clear that Maxwell will have no trouble separating himself from the band he's been a part of throughout its rise. However, don't feel alienated Flogging Molly fans, because there is a decided folk nature to White Rabbit. Replacing the Celtic angle with a predominantly reggae approach, Maxwell has made a record that avoids the formulas practiced by the myriad of local reggae groups that seem to pop up in any town with a college. His take is sparse, quiet and personal with themes ranging from self-reliance to tenderness. By mixing his folk background with reggae's mellow nature, Maxwell finds a way to both step away from and live up to his established band. More importantly though, he's written some great songs that he performs with a gentle, human conviction.

Satriani: 7/10
Zappa: 7/10
Dylan: 8/10
Aretha: 9/10
Overall: 8/10


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