He was very skilled at accompanying his own voice with his guitar, and his pacing and phrasing added a lot of weight and emotion to his words. The beautiful yet simple guitar arrangements also allowed the audience to focus on his voice and the lyrics, both of which were sublime.He knew how to use the microphone to his advantage in order to showcase the many subtle nuances of his voice, which ranged from a soft croon to a raspy, almost-yell and everything in between. While his vocal control was excellent and his voice like a salve on the ears, it was the profound lyricism that sold me on Rocky Votolato's brilliance as songwriter. There are a lot of great singers out there, but not many who can write words that are relatable to the masses without sounding too generic or cliché. For instance, the lyrics to "Sparklers" (see video below), are at once adaptable to any one person's life, and they could have been written 10, 20, or even 30 years ago. Yet they still have that ring of truth to them that resonates with anyone who hears them:
And now you’re getting tired
Careful you’re gonna fall
Everything is right, Everything is wrong
Sparklers only burn for so long
How does one become so adept at communicating such shared vulnerability? Before he was touring solo, he played with an indie/punk band called Waxwing, which at first seemed highly incongruous with his current project. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized: what's more punk rock than baring your darkest thoughts alone to a crowded room full of people? Rocky Votolato will be playing the Rhythm Room in Phoenix tonight with Matt Pond before heading to Stubb's Bar-B-Cue in Austin for a March 1st performance. For more details on ticketing information and upcoming tour dates, please visit his Myspace page here. To purchase his latest LP True Devotion, please visit his Myspace page or iTunes.