Saul Williams: Volcanic Sunlight

saul williams, volcanic sunlightSaul Williams: Volcanic Sunlight
The poetry slam boom of the 90s created several poets turned rappers including Sage Francis, B. Dolan, and the most successful of all, Saul Williams. On Williams’ fourth studio album, Volcanic Sunlight, he continues to mix spoken word, hip hop, and elements of electro.
In interviews leading up to the album, Saul Williams said Volcanic Sunlight would be “a dance album…a pop album.” In a lot of way, his assessment is right on. The album begins with a thirty second spoken word intro before “Look To The Sun” actually begins. The introduction is one of the few uses of spoken word on the album. It is significant because spoken word has been a big part of Williams’ appeal but Volcanic Sunlight sees him trying to recapture the surprise success of “List of Demands” instead of naturally evolving.
“Patience” is one of the poppiest songs of Saul Williams’ career. It has a similar urgent drum beat as “List of Demands” but a much softer synth part. Williams’ delivers vocals that shift between quick shouts and smoother, drawn out syllables. Its a phonetically pleasant listen but does not pack a lyrical punch.
“Explain My Heart,” the album’s lead single, packs a little more of the punch expected from Saul. The track features a little more urgency in the vocals and a driving instrumental. Still the lyrics mostly are revolving around love and feel a little more vapid than Williams’ usual subject matter.
While the love-based lyrics I can overlook, the lack of urgency in Volcanic Sunlight is glaring. The record plays like Saul Williams did not need to make this record but decided to make it anyway. The result is an album that feels wishy-washy and disappointing.
Rating: 6.1/10
MP3: Saul Williams “Patience”
Buy: iTunes

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