While Rudd has always had the ability to communicate with his audience on a level that few of his contemporaries can match, there's an immediacy and intimacy to the material on this disc that makes it the most compelling work he's ever done. While there are songs that obviously refer to his marriage breaking up — "Love Comes & Goes" and "Set Me Free" — they don't diminish the overall sensation of hope generated by the material on the disc. For while they don't deny the pain that he felt over what happened, they do so in a manner that recognizes while one part of his life has come to an end there is still plenty to look forward to. Even better, instead of wallowing in self-pity and inflicting the listener with his tales of woe, he has created lyrics which capture the experience so we can all understand it, even if we've never personally lived through something similar.
The roads we take in life often seem to be very strong
We walk them carefully like we're walking on bricks and stone
Only when we look behind you will see the road is cracked
From there we must move forward
Gently as we tread...
There's no other pain like losing a soul mate. — Xavier Rudd, "Love Comes & Goes" (Koonyum Sun, 2009)
As Rudd has proved in the past he cares deeply about the world around him and has no hesitation in singing about those things. However instead of preaching about what he thinks is wrong with the world or what we should be doing to make things better, he gives us the opportunity to experience the world as he does through his lyrics. So we share his wonder and joy at the grandeur of nature or his sadness at how we are in the process of letting it all slip away through carelessness and neglect. "Shy To Ground," the disc's opening song, is a great example of this as he offers a series of contrasting glimpses of the world around us. "I've seen all of the fear and all the murder on TV and I've been free on solid waves, Mother Earth's greatest treat."
Musically, even in the days when he was a solo act, Rudd has always drawn upon a variety of styles and traditions including reggae, Afro-pop, Native American, and the aboriginal music of his native Australia. In his earlier material the reggae influence gave his songs a somewhat lighthearted feel, as if in spite of any problems there might be in the world, we'd always be able to kick back and enjoy ourselves. While over the years he may have broadened his perspective so that his music has gained in intensity, he's still held onto the same joie de vivre that made him so appealing in the first place. On Koonyum Sun the music reaches new levels of intensity and complexity.