Review Summary: Rocky produces his best effort to date with The Brag and Cuss with solid songs throughout the 37 minute duration.
As the first note of harmonica hits your ears from Rocky Votolato’s second album on Barsuk and fifth album overall, you already know your in for a solid album. It is a good album both musically and vocally. The lyrics aren’t the most amazing thing you will ever read but it does its job at telling you a story.
I recently had to drive from California to Colorado through all the barren wastelands of Utah and Nevada to get there. I bought this album for the road after hearing Makers and most of Suicide Medicine. The Brag and the Cuss was a perfect record for the trip.
It has a little more of a country feel than Makers did. It is less folky. It is more of a band playing with Rocky than the acoustic stuff he has done before. There are typical country instruments galore such as organs, harmonicas, banjos, mandolins, pianos, and accordions.
The first song “Lilly White” Rocky sings his passionately “on my way back from a place of no recovering.” You can’t help but sing along. The harmonica is also very catchy. Before you were Born is faster than a lot of Rocky songs. It starts off with some fun drums and never loses its up tempo beat. It is a good fun song which is a good break from a lot of the sad Rocky songs. The Wrong side of Reno has a good chorus to sing along to. Rocky harmonizes with himself to sing “every broken bone and every blue black eye in the stories of ass beatings that you’ve earned/ you told me about how more than half were deserved/ something sank onto that bleeding skull/ a certain kind of wisdom and a humble soul/ it keeps me searching no matter how many miles left until we get back home/ you’ve been quite a traveling companion/ I hate to see you go.” It is stuff like this that makes Rocky one of the better musicians around today.
The brag and Cuss shows Rocky’s ability to make good slow ballad type songs and good upbeat songs. Such as “Your Darkest Eyes” which has some really awesome piano played by Rick Steff and once again catchy harmonica. The piano sounds like something that would be played in an old 30’s song. “Whiskey Straight” is a good slow acoustic song which contains my favorite Rocky song of the album “you were an anchor with high cheekbones/ I was a soldier with broken fingers.” After an slightly above average song called “The Old Holland” rocky ends the album with one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard and Rocky’s best song “Silver Tress.” It is pretty much the perfect song with heartfelt lyrics and great vocals and just perfect soft music. It will make you want to live in the woods and talk to animals about your life.
Overall a really good effort from Rocky and his best album that I have ever heard (I haven’t heard his entire discography but I’m getting around to it). I give it a 3.5.