Anyone named Rocky immediately conjures up a certain image. Sylvester Stallone has forever seen to that. However, cast aside preconceptions and consider Rocky Votolato. Of genuine Texan origins with a love of folk and country and with a background of being a part of the Seattle scene in hardcore punks Waxwing, his new EP might come a something of a surprise. Or maybe not when you consider him taking inspiration from legendary figures such as Nick Drake, Elliot Smith and Frank Turner.
'Sawdust And Shavings' is essentially a follow up to his last album, 2015's 'Hospital Handshakes' , something hailed as "a bona fide indie rock masterpiece" by Alternative Press. What the new EP does is take a couple of songs from that record and present them along with others, in a more stripped back manner. Basically played out solo accompanied by sparse acoustic guitar and with occasional subtle and brief appearances from musical partners.
As anticipated, the whole effect is low key, taken at a relaxed pace and very tranquil. The collection is very much at the Nick Drake end of the spectrum although there is one brief moment when the hoarse Turner anger breaks through in 'This Is My Work'. Lyrically, you can see the Turner influence; Rocky has spoken of "overcoming and casting out demons; recovery and healing and a renewed sense of purpose" in the lyrical themes.
The title track from the last album, 'Hospital Handshakes' featuring Emily Kokal of Warpaint is a obvious place to start and a track where for once, the guitar playing comes to the fore although the EP's title track possibly stands as the dreamy highlight in the twenty minutes of quality songwriting and a poised performance.
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