Ronnie Fauss

I Am the Man You Know I'm Not

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Dallas singer/songwriter Ronnie Fauss comes from a proud tradition of Lone Star State alt-country mavericks. Like his fellow longhorns Lyle Lovett and Charlie Robison, Fauss has a twang in his heart and an idiosyncratic, left-field songwriting style in his head. The way the two come together on his debut album -- which was preceded by a couple of EPs -- seem to assure Fauss a place on the path to becoming an Americana stalwart. His songs are full of a self-doubt and self-deprecation that's rendered artfully enough to sidestep mawkishness while still fitting easily into the classic country/drown-your-sorrows tradition. Musically, Fauss -- like many of his contemporaries -- is as much a roots rock renegade (think first-album Wilco or early Steve Earle) as he is an alt-country man. The rich organ lines of "Good Enough" and the plangent guitars of "The Last" attest to the influence of the former, and an abundance of swooping steel guitar and easy-rolling honky tonk grooves offer ample evidence of the latter. Most important, though, is Fauss' ability to subvert standard songwriting concepts seamlessly enough that you might not even notice if you aren't paying attention. From his ambivalent state-of-the-union address on "This Year" to bon mots like "strangers are nothing but enemies you have not had the chance yet to hate" on "Answers You Already Know," Fauss shows he's got enough songsmith chops to keep from falling into the generic alt-country troubadour heap. And his tasteful take on Gram Parsons' classic "Sin City" shows he's got his priorities straight.

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