Rocky Votolato - Makers (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Rocky Votolato

Makers (2006)


With a very reserved and a very honest demeanor, former Waxwing member Rocky Votolato should be able to make a sizable impact with his newest release, Makers.

His singer/songwriter style is one that seems extremely comfortable in its own skin. The songs are fleshed out, full of sincere musings and introspection, all under the guise of Votolato's strong and earnest vocal style. He stays at a medium pitch throughout each song, not straining to hit any high or extraneous notes, but at the same time, staying above the low, incomprehensible rumble that plagues many like musicians.

What helps the album out more than anything is simplicity. It's just a man, his acoustic guitar, and the occasional, but tactful inclusion of a harmonica. It's because of this concentrated effort that each and every song is extremely well thought out and crafted. Votolato's voice is stunningly gorgeous, without him having to do anything outlandish to make it so. The acoustic guitar is just as integral to the success of the record though, as the strumming patterns practically twinkle, and the strings are so full of gorgeous melody that each strum hits just as hard as the last. There's also some subtle instances of slap guitar playing, and it seamlessly integrates with the heartfelt harmony.

"Wait Out the Days'' is one of the slower paced songs, but it has an extremely powerful feel to it, and the way in which the lyrics are delivered makes a lot of difference. No, he doesn't try to hit any high notes, but there is a lot of diversity in his approach, albeit subtle, but it truly does make a difference. His impassioned delivery also helps to bring out a lot of the extremely strong imagery presented in the lyrics. The delicate, beautiful strum pattern of "Goldfield" only helps to make the song feel that much more majestic. The alt-country feel reflects the lyrical portrait to an absolute tee -- "Car 5032 of the Union Pacific, is passing by on the right to bring back all the hopelessness / Of a trailer park in the old mining town, where the irony's laying slack on the ground / In the dirty streets of Goldfield, if you're searching for silver or an easier fortune / Finding nothing in the way of love, or living a life any better than before."

The quiet pitter patter of "Tinfoil Hats" leads well into some solid harmonica work, the song being one of the more upbeat on the album, without losing any of the truly emotive qualities so well showcased in the previous tracks. Oddly enough, the track that uses electric guitar, courtesy of brother and Blood Brothers member Cody Votolato, is the track that most captures the real essence of a barren ghost town. The almost whispered vocals, the country twang of the occasional chord pluck, it all sets an extremely beautiful scene, layered in heart and beauty.

Rocky Votolato does little wrong with this effort, as the twelve tracks are able to echo folk and country leanings, while staying simple enough to truly evoke the kind of feeling that no slick guitar solo possibly could.