No need for a ‘happy hippie’ alert here. Queenslander AKoVA (Andy Kovacic) wears his new age sensibility unashamedly on his op-shop chic sleeve. Described as “the love child of Cat Empire and Xavier Rudd”, the latter reference is the most applicable. Formerly of roots/reggae group Shoebox, Earth Recruit is AKoVA’s solo debut. The one-man band deftly wrangles guitars, vocals, cajon, djembe, ankle bells, ukulele, kazoo and sundry percussion tools.
With an almost Balkan gypsy base, ‘Peace, Love ‘n’ Music’ rhythmically announces the overall habitat ahead. High-end vocals drift into psychedelia on ‘Give It to Me’, before AKoVA gets rapping – albeit a long way from gangsta land.
Dr Bluevein remixes the song on Track 6, where I can imagine festival-goers locking into ‘the zone’. Backing vocals introduce ‘The Revolution’ with a marching ’60s pop beat. There’s more than a hint of the Xavier Rudd’s across ‘La La Song’ and the acoustic reggae of ‘The Dance’ – he’s certainly not the first Aussie minstrel to go there.
Single ‘Let’s Get Messy’ is a call-to-party with a Latin twist. Vocals on ‘Home’ recall Paul Simon a la ‘Me & Julio’. The “greedy and grumpy” are shunned in favour of John Lennon and the Dalai Lama et al. on the closer ‘Different the Same’.
AKoVA’s lyrics will likely cop accusations of being idealistic, naïve or even a tad twee. No matter. He’s already made the finals in various songwriting awards and competitions.
His welcoming vibe has a worthy place at summery festival gatherings universally, and by all accounts he’s a natural showman. Any act to get people dancing ‘like no-one’s watching’ is always welcome in this crazy world.
Release: out now via independent release
Written by Chris Lambie