Raine Maida - The Hunter's Lullaby
Record Label: Nettwerk Music
Release Date: August 26, 2008
Sometimes musicians are just born to do it. Making music is an inherent ability bestowed upon them since birth. Music consumers know this to be true of Our Lady Peace’s Raine Maida, so his solo offering The Hunter’s Lullaby couldn’t exactly do much more to bolster his standing in the eyes of music listeners. Or could it?
An in-demand producer who has logged studio time with Men, Women and Children and American Idol winner David Cook, to name a couple examples, Maida leaves behind the alt-rock grandeur of Our Lady Peace behind for something truly masterful and refreshing. Channeling Bob Dylan and Devendra Banhart, this spoken word folk album is dotted with Middle Eastern touches, an orchestra, and Maida's usual caustic verses. To call it superlative is putting it mildly. Beginning with album opener, "Be Careful What You Wish For," Maida immediately makes a statement within the first ten seconds. Delicate acoustics balance amid a violin and a scene that’s painted with the following lines: “These white yellow lines, these angel filled skies, the road might be long, but it's my road tonight. It's a Leonard Cohen song, a Budda, Allah Monk. You can be anything you want. I'm an Italian Catholic punk and I'm on my way."
Second track "Sex Love and Money" goes for mainstream (as if the title didn’t already indicate that), accessibility, and Billboard status, but falters quite a bit. Were it not for its verses and clever wordplay, it’d probably flop. Should-be single "Yellow Brick Road," is the real homerun of the first half as Maida’s spoken-word vocals come off as a poetry slam set to music. Dropping lines like “The winters were cold but we had your parent's basement. This underground was for sinners, and we embraced it. Magic pills, fairy tales, Syd Barrett's ghost, oh we'd all get on that spaceship." Backed by a radio-ready chorus and a toe-tapping strut the song is proof-positive that Maida's name will be relative for years to come.
Fourth track "The Less I Know" is another attempt at accessibility as it veers more toward hip-hop. It works as an urban track, but it's probably the album's weakest effort, as it feels a little misplaced, if not forced. Fifth track "Earthless" is another ho-hum offering that is thankfully backed by solid lyrics: "Her bedroom is her temple, the books and the stereo her muse. And she feels humbled by this equation and sets fire to all her shoes. Not because of Henry Miller, she's just not leaving anytime soon."
If Maida can hang his hat on something, it's his ability to create clever verses. As the disc moves into the second half, sixth track "The Snake and the Crown" proves exactly that" "Today I got to thinking the world's in a strange way. Feels like I'm at a 7-11 when a robbery takes place. Do I hide behind the counter with my hands covering my face, or do I dive for the gunman before he makes his break?"
Of the next three songs: "Confessional," "China Doll," and "Rat Race," the only one that stands out from the bunch is the quiet "China Doll." Written as a response to Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth," it's a most appropriate song for the modern world's ecological dilemma. But at this point of the disc, the listener is left a bit disgruntled. Sure Maida has proved he's adept at writing great verses, and the songs in their minimalism and simplicity are commendable, but there's no oomph or solid chorus in succession. It isn’t until the album’s closer, "One Second Chance," that Maida truly goes for the throat. An outspoken opponent of George Bush, and a political activist for much of his adult life, the Canuck goes for the political while also tackling the sociological: "And I think I'll go write my senator a letter, but they just talk shit, they ain't gonna make nothing better, me and Bev, we ain't two birds of a feather, I'm counting on Chomsky, McClellan and Aldous Huxley and the Intelligencia. Well Cat Stevens he got out and he ain't missing ya, and this overpriced candy coated life, does it fit ya?" When the song ends abruptly, it leaves that unshakable feeling of wanting to start it all over again at track one. Which is probably exactly what Raine had in mind. There aren't many artists that can successfully combine the underpinnings of beat poetry, acoustic music (the album only utilizes acoustic instrumentation), and world music and pass it off as commercial and innovative. Raine Maida does just that, and does so effortlessly. While only five of the 10 songs are fully complete, none of the songs lack in lyrical substance or clever instrumentation. Aided by the sounds of wife Chantal Kreviazuk's sympathetic vocals and the elegiac strains of a piano, violin, accordions, upright bass, cello and acoustic guitars, this is a true high water mark in contemporary music.
Just now got the chance to read this. Every record on this site should be reviewed exactly like this. I feel as though this should be the template for all reviews. You did a great job analyzing each song and also throwing in your own opinion without being an asshole about it. Smooth move.