CD REVIEW: Rob Skane - SoLoFi
By Ashley Petkovski - 10/25/2002 - 10:13 PM EDT
Artist: Rob Skane
Thanks to a “noisy, but loveable tascam 4 track cassette recorder” folks blessed with an appreciation for good music can enjoy a small piece of Rob Skane’s artistry. Punk inspired, raw, boy and his (acoustic) guitar rock & roll, with a sharp lyrical sensibility, SoLoFi is 8 tracks of Rob Skane’s artistic soul, dedicated to the likes of Patti Smith (“Sister Ramone”), meandering barroom philosophers (“Cold Pizza King”), and Mr. Sid (Leather Jacket With a Bullet Hole”).
With a voice that encompasses the rough, road-worn spirit of Lou Reed, Rob Skane delivers SoLoFi in a characteristically unadorned fashion. What initially seems like a “basic” vocal delivery actually serves Skane rather well, allowing his lyrics, the essence of this record, to come through. The minimalism, which is by no means surprising for a record entitled SoLoFi, carries through to Skane’s instrumentation – his guitar. Obviously influenced by the work of 70’s rock gods, the skill that falls under his fingers comes through only during few-second introductions and in between the transitions from verse to verse. Aside from those moments of six stringed glory, his remaining musical executions are comprised of a few chords and a steady rhythm. Primarily a down-tempo recording, tracks like “What You See” and “Another Wasted Day” are more energetic, in instrumental terms, providing a nice, subtle contrast to the rest of the record. It’s all part of a fairly simple musical combination; Rob Skane’s delivery is a throwback to a somewhat forgotten –yet much loved - unplugged, indie attitude.
Lyrically, Skane is more than a surface area troubadour, sitting on a street corner with a beat up guitar strapped to his back. Skane draws from his experiences and inspirations in order to fuel his lyrical responses. In the end, the “message” of each song is suitably open for interpretation, some providing more straightforward explanations than others. Again, finding himself worthy of another Lou Reed comparison, Skane tends to utilize his memories of various people in his songs, depicting certain scenarios and conversations. He takes the listener into the exact moment, allowing them to see a situation through his eyes – and occasionally, in “Leather Jacket With a Bullet Hole,” for instance, through the eyes of an alternate persona. Poetic, poignant, and personal, Skane is, above all else, a songwriter.
On a lone negative note, the record - on occasion - drags, due only to Skane’s rhythm guitar approach, which is very similar from song to song. This doesn’t come into play when looking at each track as it’s own entity. In that case, the songs are undoubtedly strong. However, when taking a “full album” perspective, Skane’s often-used, percussive muting technique becomes somewhat repetitive.
All in all, SoLoFi is a raw, introspective collection of songs penned and performed by Rob Skane. A singer-songwriter with a timeless “indie” approach, an affinity for wordplay - “crash test dominatrix,” for example - tight, melodic “lead” guitar playing, and undoubtedly compelling lyrics, Rob Skane has compiled a fine showcase of material on SoLoFi. Unlike many records of it’s kind, SoLoFi doesn’t depend on one or two tracks to retain the listener’s attention and appreciation. A collection of eight substantial songs, SoLoFi is a fine representation of a proficient performer and an outstanding songwriter.
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