Out of the Shadows
Deviating from oneâ€šÃ„Ã´s anticipated trajectory can be a dangerously risky move in a music industry as scrutinizing as ours. For a few, such a divergence from the norm â€šÃ„Ã¬ or rather, the expected â€šÃ„Ã¬ can further catapult that artistâ€šÃ„Ã´s stature or solidify his/her place amongst musicâ€šÃ„Ã´s greatest. For many, however, it can result in a career death sentence. But whatever the outcome may be, one rule is generally adhered to if a favorable result is desired: you donâ€šÃ„Ã´t do a complete 180Â¬âˆž on your second album â€šÃ„Ã¬ thatâ€šÃ„Ã´s just foolish. Well, in that case, call Rjd2 a fool but refrain from labeling his latest release, Since We Last Spoke, a sophomore slump. Instead, brace yourselves for a sophomore surprise.When Rjd2â€šÃ„Ã´s highly praised debut hit the circuit back in 2002, the unrelenting comparisons to DJ Shadow were simply inescapable. For many instrumental hip hop aficionados, Deadringer was the biggest thing to drop since Endtroducing. And while creating Deadringer 2 would have been the easier route, Rjd2 takes the road less traveled on SWLS. Rock jams (â€šÃ„ÃºExotic Talkâ€šÃ„Ã¹), Afro-Caribbean beats (â€šÃ„Ãº1976â€šÃ„Ã¹), electro-pop love songs (â€šÃ„ÃºMaking Days Longerâ€šÃ„Ã¹), and even an 80s influenced piano/guitar ballad (â€šÃ„ÃºThrough the Wallsâ€šÃ„Ã¹) will have you swearing that you were listening to Brasil 66, The Postal Service, and The Proclaimers all on the same album complete with Rjd2â€šÃ„Ã´s signature sound. But Rjd2 does it with such panache, and an almost arrogant sense of confidence, that he pulls it off (even covering â€šÃ„Ã¬ trying to, at least â€šÃ„Ã¬ Labi Siffre). Though some fans (and critics) may feel a sense of betrayal, SWLS is a ballsy testament to Rjd2â€šÃ„Ã´s originality and ability to keep his sound fresh and distinguishable.