Rocky Votolato – Burning My Travels Clean

Rocky Votolato
Burning My Travels Clean

Rocky Votolato has stepped forward as one to watch among indie-rock’s singer/songwriters. Aside from his now four solo releases that include last year’s mini-release A Brief History and previous year’s Rocky Votolato & Seth Warren CDEP and the self-titled Rocky Votolato debut release, Rocky has also been contributing his talent as singer/guitarist for Waxwing and drummer for Kentucky Pistol. With a family to care for and full-time job, it’s amazing that Rocky has time at all to write poignant songs that are heartfelt and humanistic, masterfully crafted, and sung with distinct emotion. Matt Bayles, who is probably better known for his work with Pearl Jam, Botch, Murder City Devils, and Hayden, has again hooked up with Votolato to produce and record Burning My Travels Clean. The result is a much anticipated and finally found recording of an artist whose inclination for song and lyric is only now being realized by a greater majority of listeners. Just finishing a rather successful tour opening for Dashboard Confessional doesn’t hurt either.
The opening track, “Crabtree and Evelyn,” has the listener thinking that Rocky, despite his cool appearance on the album’s cover, is not afraid to express love for a woman. Floating easily above a clean recording of acoustic guitar, Dan Dean’s rolling snare drum rhythm, and Morgan Henderson’s bass guitar, Rocky sings, “A world that’s cracking and leaking all around me / I can spend my day knowing my love for my lady / Every song we hear, was written just for you and for me / We can show up late and leave early.”
Born and raised in Texas until age 14 when he then found himself in the Northwest area that he today calls home, there is only the slightest drawl in his voice that marks its distinction. So when Kevin Suggs’ pedal steel, Seth Warren’s Violin, Janes Mendenhall’s Piano, or Roseanne Thomas’ complimenting backup vocal slips in seamlessly, there is something that reflects a bit of western Americana. This is especially heard on “Don’t Walk Out on Me,” which I imagine also finds Rocky’s younger brother and fellow Waxwing member, Cody Votolato, offering a bit of extra electric guitar. Really though, it’s a style of music that can find comparison with Mark Kozelek and his Rock’ N’ Roll Singer, Bill Janovitz’s Lonesome Billy, or even Jay Farrar and his recent Sebastopol release. However unrealized comparisons usually end up being, there is certainly a rather different comparison now then to the Elliot Smith one that Rocky was tagged with on earlier releases.
Burning My Travels Clean is a recording of Rocky Votolato maturing. Playing for an increased audience and stepping out on his own with noted distinction, the busy artist has added again to an ever growing an increasingly significant discography that should be heard.