Born in Texas and raised in Seattle, where he still resides, 32-year-old singer-songwriter Rocky Votolato has traveled a compelling career path over the past 13 years. It started in earnest in the late '90s when, along with brother Cody (who later played in Blood Brothers and, more recently, Jaguar Love), he founded the Fugazi-inspired emo band Waxwing. Soon, though, he found that the songs he was writing didn't always jibe with that post-hardcore aesthetic, and so Votolato struck out on his own and established himself as a sort of acoustic-punk troubadour on such tremendous albums as 2002's Burning My Travels Clean and 2003's Suicide Medicine. While his voice is slightly more gritty and assertive than Sam Beam's, Votolato's music has evolved in a manner similar to Iron & Wine in the years since, going from sparse acoustic guitar-and-voice arrangements to something far more fleshed-out: lush and affecting indie-folk thickened with organ and banjo and harmonica and lots more guitars. But on his new album, True Devotion, he strips the sonics back a bit, Suicide Medicine-style, all the while still delivering a vivid, melancholy brand of Americana that explores love and loss, hope and regret, and ugliness and beauty in a wholly captivating manner.
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