Rocky Votolato – Television of Saints

written by: March 30, 2012
Release Date: April 3rd, 2012


Rocky Votolato breathes a very expressive West Coast energy in his new album, Television of Saints, that aligns with the likes of The Head and the Heart, Bright Eyes and The Shins. Tones in his voice catch the coastal wave that lines his heritage, outlining a past filled with angst, travels and newfound wisdom. We’re enlightened by the stories in the words that fill his latest compilation.

The singer-songwriter vibe that listeners collect from Votolato is tranquil yet upbeat and solemn yet dense. He doesn’t fall into the rut of the one-trick-pony curse that ails most singer-songwriters like himself: people get bored of hearing the same material from one person, no matter how talented he or she may be.

We hear the character of a writer come up every now and then to frame the album’s concept, trailing in and out of the novel listeners are treated to in Votolato’s latest set of songs. At one moment in “Crooked Arrow,” things get inspiring and profound:

“Author of all things/whisper in your ear/while you were asleep/you’re not alone with crooked arrows/like you used to think.”

It’s possible that Votolato’s work could fool listeners into thinking that it was performed by a full band. Not only does his voice fill the space in our ears, but the guitar also accompanies it enough to become fulfilled while other instruments, such as piano, harmonica and strings, chime in to complete the picture.

Votolato’s chiseled voice is the final and most prevalent instrument in the ensemble. His words are so filled with depth that they call for the right execution, which is often delicate and lovely. In “Writing Fiction,” however, his voice strains as it lets out the most lengthy powerful notes along Television of Saints. This effect as lyrics tell of “stories old” is worth tuning into wholly.

The beauty in the craft of Votolato is that even after a decently lengthy career of producing albums on his own, he still hasn’t become a prick. There’s no way to croon about finding yourself without staying humble because the subject material is so vulnerable. If he’s willing to put out such raw content, he’s not able to come off as a dick because the man is so sensitive.

Votolato’s only downfall in Television of Saints is that some may view him as dull or uninspiring. As with anything, his indie-acoustic sensibility isn’t advised for all music lovers. It could be classified as things white people like: fans would sway back and forth instead of pumping their fists at a live performance of the tunes. But if this is our biggest argument against Votolato, then he’s pretty well off. Television of Saints is harmlessly somber.

This is his other selling point: finding strength in capturing the ability to let go of feelings in front of an audience many  years after finding success in the industry. People will respect him for this, and if they can’t, they won’t allow themselves to fully appreciate the wonder that Votolato puts forth onto his audiences. Plain and simple as his style goes, all in all, Television of Saints is to be liked.

Rocky Votolato – Television of Saints tracklist:

  1. “Little Spring”
  2. “Ghost Writer”
  3. “Fool’s Gold”
  4. “Above the Water”
  5. “Sunlight”
  6. “Television of Saints”
  7. “Start Over”
  8. “Sparks”
  9. “Writing Fiction”
  10. “Crooked Arrows”
  11. “Let Go”
  12. “St. Louis”
  13. “Disguises”
  14. “Instrument”