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DOWNLOAD THEN SEE: Rocky Votolato at Lincoln Hall

By Lizz Kannenberg in Arts & Entertainment on Apr 15, 2010 9:20PM

2010_04_15_rocky.jpg I've been privy to several conversations lately about the fickle state of modern independent music - trends flit in and out like lithe hipster girls on single speed bikes and everything is starting to sound like stale, trite sameness. Even though it’s fun to blame Tankboy for the fall of indie rock, we can’t help but wallow in the barely passable pap that seeps out of a bazillion blogs and clogs up our iTunes with a steaming pile of “meh.”

But behold! Bobbing on the surface of a sea of sameness is one last bastion of tolerability, and we can call it ‘the songsmith.’ Anyone can write a song, but to craft it with the careful concentration and attention to detail of a master artisan seems to be a passing capability. Fortunately we all have a chance to see one of those rare songsmiths in action tomorrow night when Pacific Northwest troubadour Rocky Votolato brings his stark, bald-faced stories and life-weary, expressive voice to Lincoln Hall. The former Waxwing frontman is touring in support of his latest effort, True Devotion (Barsuk), another fine, gut-wrenching chapter in his songsmithing story.

I've told you in the past that Rocky makes me weak-kneed with reverence (and ok, maybe a bit of jealousy) for his massive talent, but what makes Votolato really special is his ability to unabashedly allow his songwriting to mirror his lived experience. His stunning 2003 album Suicide Medicine reflected all the cuss and vitriol of fighting one’s way through young adulthood, while 2006’s Makers is an aching, lovely eulogy to passing youth. After 2007’s The Brag and The Cuss, Votolato raged a very public battle with the dark demon of self-doubt, and True Devotion serves as his chronicle of scratching and clawing his way back to a place of personal peace.

Most music fans have that one artist whose music has been an amalgamation of every important presence in their lives - it’s a mother’s comfort when you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, a best friend’s clap on the back when the good times are rife, a mentor’s gentle guidance when the way forward isn’t clear. For me that artist is Rocky Votolato...and I’m happy to share.

Rocky Votolato - White Daisy Passing (video)
Rocky Votolato - Lucky Clover Coin [MP3]
Rocky Votolato - Tinfoil Hats [MP3]

Rocky Votolato plays Lincoln Hall tomorrow night with Owen and Brooke Waggoner, 10pm, $15, 18+