Ramble John Krohn, better known as RJD2, has always had an unmistakable sound born out of a unique creative process. Being so recognisable has the potential to be a blessing or a curse. With his 2002 debut ‘Deadringer’, RJ scored a huge hit, fusing trip-hop soul samples, sizzling live drum performances and a dramatic sense for composition, it was a bar raising album and, unlike a lot from that period, it still has a lot of impact.
Since then RJ has continued to drop albums - mostly solid efforts, but each one has created a smaller blast radius than the last. From the very beginning of ‘Dame Fortune’ you can hear RJ is intent on upping the impact. ‘A Portal Inward’ is a grandiose opening gambit of ominous synths and cymbal crashes, which gives way to ‘The Roaming Hoard’ with it’s Middle Eastern synth melodies and high octane beat. Then the vocals come in and it all gets a bit much. Unfortunately many of the tracks on ‘Dame Fortune’ seem to be plagued by poor guest features, this one in particular. Son Little’s performance on ‘We Come Alive’ is perhaps the only exception.
As the album runs on, things become increasingly over the top, like Josh Krajcik’s husky crooning on ‘Band Of Matron Saints’. The more rocky approach to the instrumentals on ‘Dame Fortune’ is executed to great effect but when forged into a ‘song’ it tends to all get a bit corny. This is a shame as the album certainly has its moments; the laid back ‘PF, Day One’ which hinges on rich strings and fluttering arpeggios is an unassuming highlight. RJD2 has made a bold statement with ‘Dame Fortune’ but sadly one lacking in much resonance.
Words: Jack Dolan
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