Although not always on the same page, every now and again country music flirts with rock n’ roll, and I’ve found that in these flirtations, it never sounds the same way twice. Sure, there have been hard pumping southern rock bands like Lynyrd Skynyrd or Molly Hatchet that have harnessed the sheer power and rumble of rock’s blistering guitars and thunderous basses, but there have also been more acoustically minded country singers influenced by the spirit and essence of rock music as well. Often discounted as too poppy for country or too country for the mainstream charts, these artists often get lumped into the folk crowd just out of scenes giving up on finding a more suitable home for them. And then there are artists like R.W. Roldan, a Texas-based country singer/songwriter who isn’t interested in what you want to call him or his music, because he’s going to be playing regardless of what you decide to label him. Ah yes, how I love intellectually-based artistic rebellion in my pop music. This is what we live for, folks. The composers who totally reject our attempts to place them neatly in a box. Because real art just doesn’t work that way. And thankfully, thanks to people like Roldan, it never will.
Roldan’s new single, “Falling Star,” is a great example of what I’m talking about. His chameleon like ability to channel the ferocious, breakaway swagger of rock music through a mostly ballad like acoustic song might be a little perplexing to those with a less discriminating ear, but I assure you that if you give his work a much closer examination, you’ll hear the echoes of rock music’s primitive, violent howling at the moon. I love the way that the energy transcends the lyrics and music into a rather shapeless, angelic like haze that comes off the stereo speakers about half way into the track. There’s a nice nod to the classic twang of the Bakersfield country bands that once dominated the charts a few decades ago that is also truly fetching to come across in this modern age that seems to have forgotten a lot of the jewels that classic country treasures had to offer.
There’s one consistent fact about the trend of music fans today that R.W. Roldan is very aware of in this new song and the bulk of his excellently well written catalogue, and it is that audiences are sick of music that is plagued with dirty, dingy production values. No one wants to hear an overproduced version of what is essentially a demo tape. We’re sick of artists who put more effort into sounding edgy and street wise than they do actually constructing music that has depth and range in its ability to reach us and speak to us on an emotional level. Roldan isn’t making music for the charts or the people who carefully monitor them, he’s making music for the masses, a sad world that needs its troubadours to guide it through the darkness and into the light. I’m happy that Roldan is doing what he’s doing, and hopefully more artists in his field will follow his lead.