The sixth album from Americana singer/songwriter Ronny Elliott continues along the same dusty backroads as its predecessors. The Florida-based Elliott is a country-tinged rocker in a tradition that ranges from Steve Earle through Townes Van Zandt to Johnny Cash. Elliott's voice, a dry baritone so flat that at times he's as much a talker as a singer, is closest to Cash (although in his higher register, he occasionally sounds bizarrely like Tom Petty), but the no-apologies political stance of much of this album also connects Elliott to Earle's rabble-rousing populism. Although the title suggests a song cycle on faded relationships, nearly half of these 14 songs are pointed commentaries on the state of the nation in the midst of the Iraq War ("No More War," "War-Scarred Horses") and the Bush Administration's desire to quash dissenting voices (the powerful, Phil Ochs-like "I Don't Hear Freedom Ring Anymore"). The centerpiece tracks, however, are the Cash-like ballad "Mr. Edison's Electric Chair," a song one can easily imagine sitting next to the likes of "The Ballad of Ira Hayes," and the lovely, romantic "Walk to the End of the World," which recalls Jimmie Dale Gilmore. A cult hero in the best possible sense of the phrase, Ronny Elliott is too singular an artist to break through to the mainstream, but Valentine Roadkill maintains his creative streak.
|Label:||BLUE HEART RECORDS|