D L Rossi: February 2018 Album of the Month

D L Rossi, Crooked Love, Vol. 1

There's no such thing as too far down if you're a songwriter. I feel bad about what happened to D L Rossi, but I have to say that seldom has pain sounded so good as Crooked Love Volume 1. The songs come out of the dissolution of his marriage and the fact that Volume 2 is in the works tells you that he didn't choose what happened and he's not over it. There's no anger here—just honest and raw emotion.

It's hardly news that heartache and music go together like cold and winter, but this hurts-so-bad EP stands out because of Rossi's honeyed vocals, his careful song crafting, and the stellar band that backs him. (Rossi's pretty darn good as a solo act as well. ) He's originally from Detroit and now lives in Nashville, but there's more Tom Petty in his grooves than cookie cutter industry processing. The other good news is that the sheer joyfulness of Rossi's music indicates he has crossed the healing border is emerging out the other side.  Or, as he puts it, "Figuring it Out/The best I can." The shimmery and watery tones in that one come off as hopeful and alembic.

Rossi constructs earworm tunes, but of the kind you're glad to have rattling about in your belfry. You could dance to "Like a Heart Needs Beats" and the melody line is positively infectious, even when he sings lines such as: When the fire burned out/Cool came down/Searching through the darkness/Looking for a way out. And who can argue with sentiments like: Passion should could from way down deep/You should need it like a heart needs beats. This arrangement and several others go big, but they never overwhelm the vocals. It's not easy to steer a tune that's simultaneously sweet and muscular, but Rossi pulls it off. Add to this his uncanny ability to write lines that just grab you. The album title comes from "Round and Round," which opens with a plaintive recap: Four walls and I'm brokenhearted/ All we had from the start/You are who you are/You're stubborn as hell/And you're all that I want. Eventually the composition builds to the confessional: But I wouldn't change a thing/About our crooked love. Check out the short but blistering electric guitar riff that follows, then a dial back. Rossi expresses his psychic journey musically: calm, storm, calm, storm… balance. The same blend of desire and sunny days ahead comes across in "Everyone." And, later, the truly honest reminder that some days are harder than others: You wake up a ghost and start a haunting. Is the ghost lost love, or Rossi? Yes is the only possible answer.

This album has all the elements I look for in great songs: authentic emotion, hooky melodies, robust instrumentation, catch-your-attention lyrics, strong accented beats, and a vocalist singing like he means it.

Rob Weir 

Here's a solo acoustic performance

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