|Todd Rundgren - Liars|
|Music Disc Reviews DVD-Audio|
|Written by Dan Macintosh|
|Monday, 06 September 2004|
Todd Rundgren’s latest release is a substantive project indeed. It touches upon big stuff, such as God, the afterlife, relationships and various other moral dilemmas. Then again, Rundgren has never been one to shy away from addressing big topics through his music. And the biggest subject of all here concerns discovering the truth – in all its various manifestations.
This disc opens with a song called “Truth” and closes with one titled “Liar.” But honesty-is-the-best-policy is practiced in the lyrics on almost every CD track. For instance, “Happy Anniversary” is utilized to lay out a few hard truths about the differences between women and men. Both sexes are roundly criticized within its lyric. “Men are stupid, men are stupid,” it says at one point, but then evens things out by adding, “Women are evil, women are evil.” Happy anniversary? Yeah, right.
Religious quests are sometimes thinly disguised searches for truth, so it makes sense to include a few “God” songs in this set. On “Mammon,” Rundgren gets in a few shots at money-grabbing ministers, who are in truth not men of God at all. In another song called “Afterlife,” Rundgren seems to want to believe in the possibility of life after death, but just can’t bring himself to put his faith in such an unproven proposition. Lastly, “God Said” questions if God truly communicates with his creations at all.
Not everything on this CD is metaphysics-oriented, or even big-issue-oriented, for that matter. An example of something a little on the lighter side, no pun intended, is “Soul Brother,” which rightfully criticizes what tries to pass itself off as soul music these days. Rundgren may be a white guy, but he always sings just like a soul brother. This gives him the credibility to put in his 10 cents about today’s sad state of soul. The track is a stripped-down electric keyboard and jazzy drum groove. It even has a really cool flute solo, which will immediately remind you of some of the great ‘60s soul music that made many summers seem so fine. It also sports what sounds like a crowd clapping right along with Rundgren, as if they are his amen choir. It has the feel of something like Ray Charles might have sung, which is right on, as Mr. Charles invented the whole soul style in the first place.
Most of this CD is not nearly so organic, however. Ever the technologically savvy one, Rundgren fully utilizes DVD-Audio advantages to bring out the expansiveness of his electric keyboard-centered tracks. The disc also includes onscreen lyrics, weblinks and a 5.1 surround sound mix by Rundgren himself.
Rundgren is pictured on the disc dressed like a drunkard’s version of the Easter Bunny. This is fitting, since the music contained within is oftentimes about myth-busting and general truth-telling. Fortunately, Rundgren couches these hard truths inside tender and beautiful music, which transforms him into a much more lovable bunny.