Posted by: will | June 22, 2007

Rocky Votolato…


Rocky Votolato “The Brag And Cuss” (Barsuk)


Rocky Votolato’s voice has graced my presence for close to a decade now. My first encounter was with Votoloto’s incredible emo/indie rock band Waxwing way back in 1998. After issuing three albums with Waxwing, Votolato went solo and the results have been quite stunning. The Brag And Cuss is Votolato’s fifth solo album. His solo material has gradually been moving in a more mature direction. The Brag And Cuss sees Votolato’s most fully realized solo material to date. Because of that, this album might take long time listeners a little longer to get cozy with.

Ample instrumentation graces The Brag And Cuss. This is perhaps Votolato’s most diverse instrumental album yet. Banjo, piano, organ and harmonica back Votolato’s trademarked vocals with a remarkable subtlety and grace. Votolato has not lost his lyrical touch either. He continues to pen thought-provoking and moving lyrics that greatly accent his country/folk songs. “Postcard From Kentucky” is one of the most affecting and haunting songs that Votolato has ever written. It starts out rather stoically with the lyrics, Jack Daniels in one hand/Basic Light in the other/My two best friends for so long that I can’t even remember and ends with the heart-breaking lyrics, If you knew what it meant to keep your heart the same/I swear to god you’d have tried harder not to change. “Before You Were Born” is a touching love song that gently follows and relieves some of the tension and darkness of the last song. “Red Dragon Wishes” feels close to crossing over into that chaotic, emotional feel that Votolato touched on with his masterpiece, 2004’s Suicide Medicine. However, Votolato’s songs have become more restrained over the years and he chooses to keep his songs from careening out of control. Many of Votolato’s songs over his last album, Makers, were travel-influenced. That continues on The Bragg And Cuss. Votolato’s tales of the road are beautiful odes of love, longing and loss.

Rocky Votolato continues to put out amazing albums year after year while somehow maintaining a relatively low profile. It does seem as though Votolato has truly found his perfect niche and is quite happy staying right where he is. I commend Barsuk for allowing him to keep perfecting his craft. Fans of Rocky Votolato are quite fine with him continuing to release outstanding albums like The Brag And Cuss for many years to come.

RIYL: Damien Jurado, Elliott Smith, Paul Westerberg

Listen: Rocky Votolato – Postcard From Kentucky (mp3)

Full Album Stream


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