BioSinger songwriters are a dime a dozen. Among their ilk, few are able to portray a convincing human quality. Underneath the suffocation layers of overproduction, pseudo-cowboy heartache and disingenuous roots-of-rock posturing, such efforts are simply ineffectual. Somehow, believing the sincerity of a heartbroken performance coming from a rock star making TV appearances to sell hip-young men's urban apparel is becoming increasingly hard to swallow. The recipe may all be in place. The songwriting formula is there. The right vintage instruments might have been played but if there's no heart behind the delivery, the music just falls flat. For those ailing from such an understandably jaded outlook, the music of Rocky Votolato comes as a pleasant change of pace.
Texan born Votolato formed acclaimed rock band Waxwing in '96 and, as is common of most prolific songwriters, Votolato discovered that his writing style began moving into new musical territory. Naturally, it seemed appropriate to find a fresh outlet for the material that didn't lend itself as readily to a rock format. With the help of some of Seattle's finest musicians,including players in the bands Red Stars Theory, Sharks Keep Moving, The Blood Brothers, Sub Pop solo artist Rosie Thomas, and the production expertise of engineer Matt Bayles (Pearl Jam, Botch, Murder City Devils, Hayden), Votolato pushed off to a healthy start in building a solid discography.
While 2001's Burning My Travels Clean was a step towards a more focused approach, the most recent and accomplished of his releases, Suicide Medicine (along with the complimentary release of the Light and Sound EP), is a perfect blend of all the strong points of his earlier efforts. "This is the first time I've felt completely comfortable and confident in the studio," shares Votolato. "[The studio environment] was super relaxed with no expectations".
The results of said environment shows Votolato capturing a matured production sensibility while showcasing the spontaneous and intimate feel of a live performance.
Votolato, with the help of the production genius of Chris Walla (Death Cab for Cutie, Carrisa's Weird, The Velvet Teen and The Thermals), has created the most compelling music of his career. Whether it's the stark realism of aggressive tracks like "The Light and the Sound" or "Automatic Rifle" or the beautiful scenic sounding "I'll Catch You", the listener is drawn into Votolato's world of longing, calling it like it is and the gift of being able to rest in the simple pleasures of a full life. "Most of the songs I write are based on real life experiences," Votolato explains "but they are not confined by the facts. "Votolato's delivery is focused, mature and able to skip'Prison is Private Property,' the impossibility of the working man's capitalistic rat race is faced head on in a prophetic like half sung/half spoken blood boiling rant. In other moments, Votolato is found easing into soft balladry aimed toward his family. The thematic gear changes feel refreshingly natural without coming off as trite or contrived.