REVIEW: Rocky Votolato – "True Devotion"

Man, this record sucks. I feel bad saying it. I like Rocky Votolato. I really do. “Suicide Medicine” was great. Fuck, “Makers” is, in my opinion, damn near perfect. His various EPs are great, his old band Waxwing was fucking awesome. So, what the fuck happened?

Maybe his stuff is just a time/place type thing for me. A friend of mine, Marissa, got me into this. The first song she showed me by Rocky Votolato was “A Discourse On Killing.” Something about a folk song having the phrase “I want to hit somebody with a baseball bat. Break his fucking knees, and take pleasure in it,” just struck me as totally great. This was spring 2006.

So, I had Marissa burn me his stuff and got to listening. She burned me the previously mentioned “Makers” and “Suicide Medicine.” In December 2006 I moved to my first punk house. I listened to those records a whole lot. It was good folk/country. But, some of the songs were dark. Perfect. 2007 came along, and he put out “The Brag And Cuss.” It was the turning point for him. That record, while still good, had a considerable amount of filler. Shit, almost the entire second half was filler. When I found out he had something new coming out this year, I was not very optimistic.

“True Devotion” came out in February. I finally got around to getting it in May. Then, finally got around to listening to it in June. Musically, it is pretty interchangable with “Makers.” Folky guitar, a little less country vibe than the last one. But, the lyrics fell flat. If I had to describe this album in one word, I would say “repetitious.” For example, the second track “Fragments,” has only one regular verse. The rest is basically the chorus, with a few words changed every now and then. This was not the only song where this happened. A good number of songs could be better, if not for the seeming ad nauseum repeating of the chorus.

For the good parts though, it was generally solid musically. The guitar sounded good. The vocals were mixed well. The opening song “Lucky Clover Coin” sounded good. But, still was dragged down by overly simple, and repetitive lyrics. I think that “Sparklers” is a great song too. It has a good guitar sound, and is using sparklers and firecrackers as a metaphor for a relationship. Anyone can relate to that, I suppose. It is a bit trite, but, I am grasping for straws here. I know that does not seem like there is very much good. But, I think my expectations were a little high.

So, I guess this record just disappointed me. I only see two out of ten songs ever getting played again. Maybe I am missing something. It just seems like his songwriting is falling down to cliched metaphors and simple rhymes. Even the music could not save most of these songs. I feel bad though, I really wanted to like this. I say, fuck it, go get a copy of “Makers” and a bottle of Makers and have a good night there. This record here is fine enough, but not that good. 2 out of 5.

Official site (features all lyrics for this release).
Official store

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