Jesse Blake Rundle’s “Captain Profundo” is the second single release from Rundle’s Radishes and Flowers and adapts its lyrical content from American poet Wallace Stevens’ work “The Revolutionists Stop for Orangeade”. This is heady stuff for the modern music scene; Stevens is a respected poet by the well-read but his mainstream reputation, like many poets, has long suffered neglect in a world where poets don’t rate. Rundle, thankfully, never received the memo. Poetry such as Stevens would seem to resist adaptation into a musical format, song lyrics are not verse, but Rundle will surprise many with his fluent translation of Stevens’ source material into a musical framework. Radishes and Flowers is set for a 2020 release and, based on this single, it seems safe to say this Idaho based singer/songwriter will impress many with his talents.
The songwriting has a light touch throughout the entirety of the track. It begins in a low-key fashion with nothing but Rundle’s acoustic guitar, improvised percussion courtesy of Rundle striking his guitar, and his vocals. He has an effervescent vocal style for the tune that helps convey the lyrical content to listeners with clarity – the lack of any clutter in the arrangement keeps listeners focused on his voice and the words from the outset. The muted opening of the track sets the stage nicely for its development and everything that comes after.
Familiarity with Stevens’ poetry is not necessary for enjoying this tune. Rundle has chosen a clear and strong example of Stevens’ verse for this song and his interpretation is respectful, yet never reverential. Rundle claims these words as his own recasting the words in a musical setting, but Stevens’ spirit remains a strong presence throughout the track. The lyrics and music meshes in a cohesive fashion; one compliments the other.
His acoustic guitar playing is fluid but never overwrought. Rundle brings to the song exactly what it needs and nothing more. There are some splendid harmony vocals present in the performance. There is a light presence of piano and electronic touches further fleshing out the track, but the heart of the track remains the voice and guitar. You find yourself willing, from the first, to follow Rundle wherever he wants to take you.
Zeroing in on his vocal, Jesse Rundle has an emotional edge without ever striking listeners as abrasive or assertive. He takes great care with the words, but the phrasing feels natural throughout. This is an impressive second single from Rundle’s Radishes and Flowers release and demonstrates Rundle’s impulse to adept Stevens into a musical setting is a smart move. We cannot pretend this sort of release will lead to a Wallace Stevens renaissance but it is, nonetheless, a fine and spirited tribute to one of the best American poets. “Captain Profundo” has a slightly ethereal touch and practically pulses with emotion. It is an excellent taste of what is to come with his impending album release and promises immense riches are waiting for listeners willing to take this journey.
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