Taking a page out of my boy Ronnie Harris (@RonQuixote_)’s book, doing an album review, something you’ll get from me once every few moths.
First things first, let me start this review off by saying that this album was released in 2010 in the UK, but has yet to see a proper US release. Rock Dust Light Star is the 7th studio album by UK funk-jazz-pop band Jamiroquai, which heralds Jason Kay as their lead singer, it is the first official album release in 5 years since 2006’s “Dynamite”, a funk-synthesized, pop type album that disappointed a lot of fans. The band hasn’t had the same feel to their music in a number of years, and although they still made good music many people will quickly point to the mess with Sony BMG as to why we heard so little from the band over the past decade. With all the dust settled, the band finally got together in the home of their lead singer and got back to their soulful, jazz-type ways, and cranked out a brand new piece of work.
If you were ever going to map out a plan of how to make a comeback album, you would need to consult these guys on how to do it, because they hit the nail on the head with RDLS.
As stated earlier, this album was released in November of 2010, but since it hasn’t OFFICIALLY seen a US release yet, I thought it’d be nice to cover it, because I know there are a lot of American Jamiroquai fans who just haven’t heard anything about this yet (I didn’t know until around September). Two singles were released prior to the album being put out, “Rock Dust Light Star”, and “Blue Skies” (actually released the day of), with two more coming early this year (one of which was not an album cut).
RDLS goes back to the roots the band originally planted some 15 years ago with “Travelling Without Moving”, a band that can go from funk, to jazz, to blues, to pop, and even reggae in the same album or even SONG. Sometime between “Funk Odyssey” and “Dynamite”, they lost that feel and began to produce the music that Sony obviously wanted out of them. Well now those days are gone, and from start to finish the album will have you playing every single type of air instrument you could possibly make.
The album opens with the titular song, “Rock Dust Light Star”, which begins with Kay testing out a few vocals, which leads into a song that probably describes the band’s hiatus over the last 5 years:
Now look and see those stars for you and me
Waiting like silent killers in the night
Atomic legions you can never fight
I’ve never felt I ever prayed
Don’t have to join in with the other slaves
I’m not the only one who feels betrayed
Even though it’s a tale of finding oneself and regaining a sense of who you are, the song is upbeat, and from there, the album leads into “White Knuckle Ride”, continuing the same up-tempo, yet controlled style that it opened with.
There’s a lot that I love about this album, the main thing being that it serves its purpose: it’s a definitive statement by a very good band that’s announcing that, yes, they are indeed, back. I haven’t heard an album that finds a way to make two different styles work so well together in the same piece of work. The whole album stays mainly within two different types of music: jazz and blues, with some additional dance, techno and maybe pop thrown in. Even the songs that are supposed to be sad, still have some upbeat parts to them, for example, “Hurting” is one of my favorite songs on the album, even though it’s about not being able to get over a breakup. There are a bunch of other songs that work that way too, mostly in the beginning, by the end of the project, songs begin to take one form and stick with it. As a matter of fact, the second half of the album is amazing, from Lifeline onward, RDLS begins to take a uniform shape and becomes just about music. “Blue Skies”, “Lifeline”, “She’s A Fast Persuader” and “Two Completely Different Things”, continue the jazz-feel of the album (well, Fast Persuader…not so much), while “Goodbye to My Dancer” and “Never Gonna Be Another” get back to the blues feel. The whole piece wraps up with what has become one of my favorite songs, ever, not on this album, not this year, not these last couple of years, no, it has moved up to the top of the lists of songs I love. It’s right up there with “Could It Be I’m Falling In Love” (The Spinners), “Going In Circles” (Isaac Hayes version), somewhere around “Radio” (Jamiroquai), or Return of the Gangsta (OutKast). It’s a song by the name of “Hey Floyd”, it’s a song that maneuvers in and out of so many backgrounds, so many themes, so many ideas, that it just drops one major mound of instrumentals behind a set of lyrics. And it couldn’t have been done better.
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All in all, from start to finish, this album delivers, plain and simple, wherever you bought this from, it was worth the buy. The style, the orchestration of the whole piece, overall I just love the way that Jamiroquai reappeared and said “yup, we’re back, we’re what we used to be, and we’re BETTER at it”. As a fan of good music, and a complete lack of real soul, R&B-type music, and just a plain lack of versatility in all genres right now, I’m just glad that we get to hear something refreshing again.
Overall, I give this album a 10/10, if you’re a fan of soul, jazz, R&B, or you just like good music and want to try something new, pick up this album. As soon as possible.