Singer/songwriters have been brandished with the stigma of being another ripple in the pond of music for quite some time now, and with the times a-changing, there’s little to no room left for a guy and an acoustic guitar singing his guts out.

They’re being eroded by the quick and fast-paced current of the ever-changing music scene and are quite frankly near extinction, good ones at least.

But a Texas-born, hardworking 28-year-old by the name of Rocky Votolato is putting the soul back into the typical standard of pop sing-alongs of acoustic only tunes with his new album, Markers.

Releasing Jan. 24, Markers will be his best album to date after making his start in the emo-ized band of Waxwig, which featured both Rocky and his brother, who is now in the acclaimed band known as The Blood Brothers.

Votolato released three solo records during the time of the Waxwig era. His last solo record was released in 2002 under the name of Suicide Machines and was held in great stature of the albums of the year.

Markers has a new way about Rocky, though. He seems mature, well mannered and just an all around good guy. His cool and calm voice drifts slowly over the somewhat folky, somewhat poppy album. But this release is as solid as it is relaxing.

When I received this CD, there were a few directions from the record label inscribed on the insert of the album. Straight from Barsuk Records in Seattle, they read: “For maximum enjoyment, we recommend that you spend half and hour in a dim room with this album at the end of a hard day, reading the lyrics while you sip on the beverage of your choice.”

That’s intense, and it works too!

The album starts off with a mildly up-beat song titled “White Daisy Passing” focusing on the thought process of memories long gone and wanting those old times back again. Its second track, “Portland is Leaving,” focuses more on the fact that life is short, and you should take advantage of life while you have it, especially while it’s treating you decently.

The majority of the album is done with just voice and acoustic guitar. There are a few spurts of lead guitar playing over the melodies — one of which happens to be Rocky’s brother, whom he called out for the recording for the song “Where We Left Off,” which doesn’t sound half bad.

However, on the song “Tennessee Train Tracks,” Votolato insists on using a full band, which clearly portrays the weakness of the track as a whole and qualifies it as the lamest song on the album.

The best song on the album also happens to be the most depressing (funny how it always seems to work out that way). “She Was Only In It For The Rain” accurately depicts the horrors of being in a one-sided relationship as Votolato sings out “Here’s the first of many songs you wanted me to write/just for you I hope to God you like it/you’re as pretty as you are cruel.”

As a whole, Rocky Votolato has certainly grown out of his Pacific West, emo shoes and has evolved into quite a good man and one hell of a songwriter.

He wears no shame in what he does, and his wife is actually fully behind him in all of his endeavors. She encourages him to keep doing what he loves, despite the fact that he has two children.

Nothing can hold this man back. We hope to see him on tour this year; it would be a sure one not to miss. Essentially, what I’m trying to say is this album is a steal. So when Markers hits stores on Jan. 24, don’t be the odd man out. Go buy the album!

Michael Bravata is a senior at Rockwall High School and aspiring journalist with an interest in independent, underground and local bands. He can be reached at mrbravata@hotmail.com.

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