Rocky Votolato & Chuck Ragan – Kindred Spirit Review – 2015

kindred spirit

I’d never been into Rocky Votolato, and not because of any discourse with his music, it just hadn’t reached the top of my list of things to listen to until this split came along. I am a huge fan of Chuck Ragan and all his musical endeavors, so when Kindred Spirit hit the shelves, I immediately put it into regular rotation.

My attention was immediately grabbed with the first line of the opening track by Rocky Votolato – “Sparks of Recovery”,

“In a 91 that still runs but barely, Writing your name in the fog on winter windows in the morning”

A great metaphor of life. A perpetual feeling that life is about to fall apart but the comfort and company of another is all you need to get through.

Sparks of Recovery is a beautifully constructed tune that captures a great metaphor of life. The perpetual feeling this uncontrollable journey is falling apart, and yet the comfort of another will lead to resolution or perhaps just acceptance. Struggle and perseverance, whatever that may be.

Rocky’s other two tracks, “St. Louis” and “Let Go” continue in the same vein as this opening track. Sonically soothing, unavoidably beautiful and surprisingly comforting. He has a great ability to introduce ideas of ultimate sadness only to be followed by a perfectly uplifting resolution:

“Eventually we’ll all lose every single thing we love”
“But we can beat death while we’re still alive”

These songs server as a great reminder that resolution is in the hands of your own mind, so make of it what you need.

Chuck Ragan’s side of the split does not disappoint. Three great tracks, with some fantastic guest’s helping him out on the vocals. Dave Hause, Jon Snodgrass, Ben Nichols, and Chad Price all make appearances.

Chuck’s tracks all sound like they could have been included on his previous release “Till Midnight”, and made the already brilliant record, even better. “Vagabond” is a track you will recognize from Till Midnight, but the guest appearances make this a well deserving re-release.

My favorite track on the record is the closer, “Before Dust”. It’s a slow grind that’s captivating enough to make you lose yourself in thought, if you let it. The song makes me feel like I’m on a motorcycle cruising two lane mountain roads well after midnight, with only my mind and the stars above to keep company. The song is like a good book that can be read in snippets. Take nearly any line presented throughout and let your mind digest it. I mean really dig in, and see where it takes you. Challenge yourself to learn more about yourself through this brilliant thought provoking track. My current favorite:

“We all must land somewhere”

Anyway – this is a great record from end to end, and damn good soundtrack for road trips and traveling into the great unknown. Hop on over to Chuck Ragan’s website, link below, and get yourself a copy of this on CD or Vinyl

Rocky Votolato & Chuck Ragan – Kindred Spirit – ORDER HERE!

Mix Tape – Train Songs

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This mix was inspired by the comments on my Top 5 Train Songs post both here and on my Facebook wall. I had to do a little curating but I tried not to do much. Some songs I couldn’t find a decent version of and some I had to pick which artist I was going to use. I didn’t duplicate artists or songs and we still ended up at 25 tracks! I really hope you enjoy this as much as I enjoyed the work involved in putting it together.

Rocky Votolato – Bragg and Cuss

“Jack Daniels in one hand / Basic Light in the other / My two best friends for so long that I can’t even remember” ~ Postcard from Kentucky

Are you fucking kidding me? If there was any such thing as a paint-by-numbers template for writing songs for me to like, that line right there would be on it.

Look, sometimes I look back at things I have written on here and think about how I could have gotten that point across in a much more efficient manner….I am god damned determined not to end up doing that with my review of this cd. This cd is perfect to get drunk alone to. PERFECT! To make sure, I waited until the wife was gone and got three sheets to the wind before doing this piece….sucks to be my volunteer editor tonight…[yes, yes it does- the volunteer editor]

“There’s some demon way down South some kind of confederate ghost. It holds me close and shows me where to go until I’m sure I’m lost…but some mistakes can’t be undone it’ll never be like it was and wishing for it only makes it worse.” ~ Red Dragon Wishes

I listen to this album when I have to drive late at night. It’s a bare-bones album where the bells and whistles and production tricks are set aside. The songs themselves are allowed to take center stage, and if you are alone with a whiskey drink and you turn it up just enough, it will feel like the songs written just for you.

Unlike Makers, this album features a full band consisting of James McAllister (Sufjan Stevens) on drums, Bill Herzog (Jesse Sykes & The Sweet Hereafter) on bass, Casey Foubert (Pedro the Lion) on electric guitar, banjo, mandolin and percussion, and Rick Steff (Catpower, Hank Williams, Jr.) on Hammond b3, piano, and accordion. However, that Makers raw, to-the-bone emotion is still there. This cd is Essential Listening. My drink is empty and the cd needs to be restarted.

Check it out.

Rocky Votolato – Postcard from Kentucky
Rocky Votolato – Red Dragon Wishes
Rocky Votolato – The Old Holland

Rocky Votolato’s Official Site, Rocky Votolato on Myspace, Buy Bragg and Cuss

TAMPA/ST. PETE…GET OFF YOUR ASSES! Rocky will be playing The State Theater tonight. You can see him for mere twelve dollars. The doors open up at 7pm. If that isn’t your cup of tea join me at Ringside Cafe’ tonight for a blind date with Mr. Bryan Lee. It will certainly be a great night of Blues guitar, sweat and beer. DVR what ever shitty drama you were gonna watch tonight and get out to see some damn live music.

Bryan Lee – Tina Marie
Bryan Lee – Gave You What You Wanted
Bryan Lee – The Sky is Crying