It seems like it’s been longer than usual since we last spoke with RJD2. Reason being, his last album, The Third Hand, was a drastic departure from what he had introduced to us on his first two solo albums and his various offshoot projects. The Third Hand was overall a quality record, however the difference was that RJ employed less sample based mechanics and more of his own vocal contributions. This radical shift in sound offset a large percentage of his longtime fanbase, whom were looking for his trademark instrumental offerings. Granted, RJ defends this as his only “true” solo album, as he produced and sung everything.
The Colossus is RJD2′s fourth record, and one that attempts to repair any wounds opened by The Third Hand. RJ hasn’t given up on crafting his own brand of indie-pop, but at the same time has not abandoned is superior instrumental work either. The end result is an amalgamation of the two styles, resulting in a perfect balance of all his styles.
The album opens with the massive “Let There Be Horns”, which suggest RJ is back to his old style, comparative to either of his classic, abrasive opening tracks such as “The Horror” or “Since We Last Spoke”. He takes things down a notch for the melodic “Games you Can Win”, a song clearly inspired by the work from his last LP, although more expertly handled by multi-talented mountain-climbing vocalist Kenna. We find RJ not afraid to employ other vocalists on the album with equally satisfying results – such as Phonte Coleman on the soulful “The Shining Path” or Aaron Livingston on the swanky “Crumbs Off The Table”.
That’s not to say that RJ can’t handle his own on the chops. While it was a little overwhelming taking up the entire record last album, it’s done perfectly this time around, and with excellent results. “The Glow” is an instantly catchy, classically styled, piano driven RJ track, while “Gypsy Caravan” finds him belting out each note like a weathered 70′s rock vocalist. The bouncy “Walk With Me” leaves something to be desired, as it seems a little out of place here, but RJ walks the line just fine, with “just enough” vocal contributions on The Colossus. Many of the albums other instrumental based tracks help balance out the album perfectly, such as “The Stranger”, “Small Plans”, and “Tin Flower”, each of which are more or less vintage RJ, and just how we like it.
At the end of the day, The Colossus is a success. Many times after an artist disappoints his fanbase, he then turns on them, and scolds them for not liking the new direction. Not the case with RJD2, who seems to be humbled and rejuvenated. Welcome back, old friend.
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