ROCKY VI

Folk wonder's latest album still walks a narrow path

Some years ago, in the days of high school friends and our random parental-condoned road trips, we swarmed the tiny Bottom of the Hill club in San Francisco. The headliner, some erstwhile member of some whimpering pop-punk troupe, has charitably faded from memory, but the opening act was a man and a guitar, gracefully singing bare folk songs: Rocky Votolato, who captures both optimism and desperation with quiet dignity, whose bleakly loving song "Suicide Medicine" was tear-jerking that night in a way we've never experienced before or since. His recent country-leaning endeavors have been lovely (2007's The Brag and Cuss, especially), but this month's new album, True Devotion (his sixth, on Barsuk), finds him back in roots territory—alas, fighting familiar sorrow. Be well, Rocky, because you make us better. With Peasant and Thieving Irons.
Wed., Feb. 24, 7:30 p.m., 2010

 
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