Review: Thom Jennings
Todd Rundgren’s forthcoming release White Knight is unique for many reasons. It breaks a streak of one word titles for his solo albums of original material dating back to Liars and it is the first truly collaborative effort since Second Wind.
White Knight is filled with guest appearances, but as one would expect from Rundgren it is hardly in the same vein as a traditional duets album. Rundgren, who has long been able to create music by himself, picks up where he left off on Global many of the tracks, but at times it also has the feel of Todd’s solo work dating back to Hermit of Mink Hollow.
Before we go any further, if you have a pair of good headphones, get them out and get them cranked up because it will really help you appreciate this gem of an album. White Knight is a musical journey, and while it does not have a conventional thematic thread running through it, there are some majestic moments and a healthy dose of ear candy.
There are a few tracks that really stand out, starting with “Chance for Us” featuring Daryl Hall. There were high expectations for this pairing based on their earlier work together, and it does not disappoint.
“Let’s Do This” with Moe Berg, former lead singer of the Pursuit of Happiness, is the sweetest of the ear candy. It’s a fun song that grabs you from the opening notes and will have you smiling by the time it wraps up.
“Wouldn’t You Like to Know” a collaboration with Todd’s son Rebop, is one of three ethereal ballads. The other two, “Beginning of the End” with John Boutte and “That Could Have Been Me” with Robyn feature the guests handling the lead vocals.
The final track, “This is Not a Drill” is an in-your-face rocker propelled by Joe Satriani’s guitar and Todd’s longtime live rhythm section Kasim Sulton and Prairie Prince.
Other collaborative efforts include “Tin Foil Hat” with Donald Fagen. The track has a Steely Dan feel with a theme that is not difficult to figure out. Rundgren also has tracks with Trent Reznor, Joe Walsh and former “Global” touring partner Dam Funk. The writing credits indicate that in addition to performing songs with his collaborators, most of the songs are co-written with the guests.
White Knight is a special album that should be listened to beginning to end before pulling out a few tracks to add to your Todd playlist. It was about my fourth time through over a couple of days that I really began to appreciate just how great it is.
One track, “Buy My T” laments you “can bootleg the music, but you have to buy a shirt.” With so many artists from Rundgren’s era that have given up on making new music, fans of Todd should feel lucky he still has an audience that will support his endeavors. With that being said, don’t just buy a shirt, buy this album.
02. I Got Your Back
03. Chance For Us
05. Beginning Of The End
06. Tin Foil Hat
07. Look At Me
08. Let’s Do This
10. That Could Of Been Me
11. Deaf Ears
12. Naked & Afraid
13. Buy My T
14. Wouldn’t You Like To Know
15. This Is Not A Drill