Rocky Votolato True Devotion

The name may suggest a boxer, but there's nothing aggressive about the haunting sound of this highly respected Seattle, WA-based songsmith. Votolato grappled with a serious bout of depression following his last album, 2007's The Brag & Cuss, and there is certainly plenty of introspective philosophizing here. Lines like, "There's a constant farewell into a new dream full of unpolluted sorrows" (from "Fragments") suggest there are still demons to be fought, while other songs hint at the redemptive power of love. His vocals are a bit dirge-like on "Instrument," but they generally have a gently compelling quality. The sound is sparse, while the mixing work of long-time production collaborator Casey Foubert (Sufjan Stevens) keeps things in a nice balance. This is honest and quietly powerful. (Barsuk)