Boomkat Product Review:
Looking back on RJD2's career thus far 'The Third Hand' seems to form the final part in a cohesive trilogy that began with the hip-hop marinated cluster-f*ck of 2002's 'Dead Ringer', moved onto the smooth pop overtones of 'Since We Last Spoke' and now culminates in the 21st Century songwriter/producer role as characterised by 'The Third Hand'. Whilst RJD2's conversion from a DJ Shadow endorsed beat auteur into a solo agent of avant-soul might strike some as a little contrived, there is nothing forced or synthetic about 'The Third Hand' - with the Philadelphian's evident love of this breed of warm and inclusive songwriting dripping from each and every pore. Composed and recorded alone using a MPC 2000XL sampler/sequencer, analog synths, electric pianos and guitars, RJD2 can now broadly be catergorized as inhabiting a similar sonic orbit to that of Herbert's 'Scale' or even Jamie Lidell's 'Multiply' - wherein clever production and intelligent songwriting come together in a manner which will appeal to a spectrum of listeners whose tastes range from Phoenix through to the Beach Boys. Opening with 'You've Never Had It', RJD2 delivers an organic recipe of svelte arpeggio, loping bassline and scalpel adjuncts that will suck you in and hold you there with grinning glee. Bruised throughout by his hip-hop roots, 'The Third Hand' nonetheless dares to dabble in areas that are oft considered out-of-bounds - with 'Have Mercy' seeing RJD2 taking to the mic for some soft-rock grandeur that will have you nodding along like Churchill. Blessed with a vocal style that is reminiscent of a less clever-clogs Jamie Lidell, RJD2 evidently relishes the opportunity to flex the larynx, with 'Reality' appropriating a West Coast aesthetic, 'Someday' exploring fragile acoustica, whilst 'Just When' is a shimmering slice of blue-sky optimism. For those who find this focus on the verbals a little hard to swallow, the Moroder-esque synths of 'Paper Bubble' or halting hip-hop of 'The Bad Penny' will provide instrumental bliss and a nice contrast amongst the silky compositions. Hand held!