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Since the death of Elliott Smith, there is been a gaping hole in my musical heart for a raised in Texas, relocated to the Pacific Northwest, singer/songwriter of gorgeous emo rock. With Television Of Saints, Rocky Votolato has submitted his application. An album funded by himself and his fans, Votolato keeps the arrangements sparse and cost effective. Every instrument comes through clean. While Smith couldn’t leave Texas behind fast or far enough, Rocky embraces his roots with plenty of Southern folk informing his compositions (a trend begun in earnest with 2006’s Barsuk debut, Makers). “Little Spring,” leads things off in such fashion. His harmonizing here and throughout the record lifts great tracks to complete lack of resistibility.
“Ghost Writer,” is a lovely track about the durability of the human heart. In what is, perhaps, a lamenting of his own parents’ divorce, “Start Over,” tells of one person in a marriage willing to do whatever it takes to keep a family together but realizing that it can never work. The overall theme is one of inner turmoil and perseverance. Therein lies the crux of the difference between Smith and Votolato. Both are (were) capable of true musical beauty and used it to voice their struggle. But only one saw hope at the end of the tunnel. Television Of Saints is a staggering effort and an excellent payoff to his fans that helped pay for it.
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