Rocky Votolato

Rocky Votolato

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Rocky Votolato's first solo record -- an album that was a big influence on Dashboard Confessional -- is a stripped-down and subtle acoustic folk set. Like early Elliott Smith, Votolato is able to convey so much emotion with simple instrumentation, hushed vocals and lo-fi production. If Smith was simplifying his work in the punk group Heatmiser by turning to folk, Votolato goes one step further, taking Smith's singer/songwriter style and making it calmer, always threatening to simply float away. From the breezy "Intro to ACGF" to the more somber "Victims" and "A Painting of a Song", this debut is always reflective, simultaneously evoking the quieter picking of Leonard Cohen and the internal outpouring of Van Morrison's Astral Weeks. Vocally, Votolato carries on the sound he developed in the softer moments of his rock band Waxwing, something akin to Bright Eyes without the waver and warble. The album ends with "I Remember Music", one of Votolato's best songs and the record's most buoyant -- a mythologizing nostalgia trip that is both intimate and touching like a fading photograph.

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