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  • Jonathan Widran

R.W. Roldan, "Falling Star"

If a raw, rootsy Americana-influenced singer/songwriter like Chris Stapleton can become a multi-platinum country artist, there’s no reason millions of authenticity-embracing fans can’t give R.W. Roldan the same kind of love. The L.A. based singer-songwriter and storyteller extraordinaire pegs his organic hybrid vibe as “Americana roots rock/alt country,” but that’s just an introductory description of his multi-faceted stylistic palette.

Grounded by raw emotion, dusty and gritty life experience, crafty storytelling and witty, poetic turns of phrase, Roldan’s soon to be released debut album Can You Feel This darts in many freewheeling directions - from the cheeky blues-country of “Bad Love Pain” and wistful, lonesome “The Night Before” to the plucky playful Trump-era romp “Wyatt Earp” and “Big Skies,” a hilarious lament about life in Los Angeles, where “they pulled the stars from the skies and put ‘em in the sidewalks.”

Setting the table for the rollout of the full album is its first single “Falling Star,” an earthy, laid back folk-flavored and tale about the price of rock and roll dreams that take a young girl far from home. With soulful, inviting touches of fiddle and female vocal harmony, Roldan weaves a slowly developing tale of dashed hopes, lonesome highways, troublesome strangers and the girl’s landing in a place where “Even paradise can feel like hell/When you’re longing for the sound of the dinner bell.” This song, like many on the album, reflect on a complex family saga that brought him to a difficult childhood growing up in Los Angeles.

Roldan’s music has a weathered, lived in style that reflects a fascinating background. Determined to overcome his hardscrabble roots and provide for his own family, Roldan set music aside for years as he successfully pursued mainstream careers as an auto mechanic and a tool and die designer in the aerospace industry (working on the Space Shuttle and B-1 Bomber) before launching his own construction business.

When he finally set his mind to making music, Roldan quickly made up for lost time, recording with famed musicians like Doug Pettibone (Lucinda Williams), John J.T. Thomas (Bruce Hornsby), Rick Shea (Dave Alvin, Rosie Perez), Bruce Watson (Rod Stewart), Chuck Kavoorus, and Brad Cobb (Tori Amos), David Chamberlain (Roy Buchanan, Manhattan Transfer). Ray's band also includes Mark Hayes (lead guitar) and Luke Hayes (drums). He’s been recording under various band monikers, including Swing Samurai and Broke Fence, since emerging with his debut album In California Country in 2006.

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