Ian Anderson's latest solo album is a far cry from the instrumental Divinities from a few years back, and more in line with 2001's The Secret Language of Birds. Rupi's Dance, (named after one of his cats), is a symphonic, folky affair, kind of like an acoustic Jethro Tull album without the Tull members. Ian plays all the acoustic guitars, flutes, and of course handles the vocals, and is joined by a wide cast contributing bass, drums, occasional electric guitar, percussion, keyboards, and various strings. It's and endearing and enjoyable platter, as only Ian Anderson can conjure up.
Made up of 13 tracks, and one bonus tune featuring the full Tull band, which will be on the bands next release, titled The Jethro Tull Christmas Album (more on that in the next few months I suppose), there's lots to sink your teeth into here. Comprised of mystical folk flavored songs like "Old Black Cat" , upbeat rock numbers backed by strings on the excellent "Lost in Crowds", and the occasional wispy instrumental, most notably "Eurology", which is led by Ian's melodic flute passages, Rupi's Dance will be a welcome listen to ardent Tull follwers. Anderson's penchant for humorous lyrics are in fine form on the witty "Photo Shop", a tune about all the holiday photos taken that are probably more remembered by the photo developer than the people who actually took them. The continuing fascination with birds continues on the symphonic "Pigeon Flying Over Berlin Zoo", a song that is only missing the power chords of Martin Barre to become a full fledged Tull track.
Ian Anderson has been entertaining us since the late 1960's, and he continues to produce music that is both contemporary and nostalgic. The man's writing skills are as sharp as ever, and while his voice has not held up as well, his vocal style has changed over the years to accomodate his shortcomings, and the lower range he now sings in fits in with these songs just fine. Chalk up another winner for the "one-legged, wiry haired, and cloaked" flute player.