The last few years have been tumultuous ones for Chris Volz. Beginning in 2004, the singer/guitarist lost his label, and along with his band, Flaw, formed Five.Bolt.Main, saw that unit disbanded, recorded a solo album, then re-formed Flaw before his solo set even hit the shops. Much of that upheaval roils through Redemption, an album searching for salvation while cagily refusing to make amends. And never more so than on the title track, which angrily opens the set, with Volz defiantly insisting "you can't change me," even as he admits "we're a meager mess." And messy relationships, contradictory impulses, and emotional maelstroms are the foci of his album, as the artist psychoanalyzes himself, his friends, and his lovers in song. Across the set Volz uses his emotional insights as a weapon, a crutch, a way to distance himself from others, and occasionally as a way to reach out and comfort. In the end, though, problems never really seem to get solved, and for sure no-one ever walks away cured, least of all Volz himself, who's left in a pool of depression in the closing "Don't Save Me." In a way, "Save" is the album's denouement, what's left after Volz strips away all the pretenses and defenses, and few songs better illuminate the apathy that swirls around the darkness of depression. Tellingly perhaps, it's written not by Volz, but by old pal and bandmate Jason Spiewak. Spiewak and guitarist Matt Chiaravalle are the constants on this guest-logged set, one which owes more to Volz's time with Flaw than his time with Five.Bolt.Main. Even so, the set is diverse, running from infectious pop-rockers like "Altercation" and "All My Life," to the shimmering soft rock of "Dear Life" and on to the grinding hard rocker "Your Own Medicine" and back to such downbeat numbers as "Once Again," "Secure," and the glorious "Don't Save Me." Awash in emotion and filled with superb music, Volz may not have found personal redemption, but this set redeems every misstep he's ever made in his musical career.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Jo-Ann Greene