Breaking up may be hard to do, but it can be pointedly humorous as well. “I can’t hide the tears/That I never cried,” confesses singer/songwriter Bill Rotella on “When You Left Everything Went Right,” the first single from his latest album, All Roads Lead Home
. In the early ‘80s, Rotella was a founding member of Baywood, a Southern California-based roots-rock band that became regional favorites on the concert circuit but lacked the then-mandatory major-label push for mainstream success. On his own, Rotella, the son of Frank Sinatra
and Dean Martin
songwriter Johnny Rotella, is able to draw from decades of personal and professional experiences to produce a boldly self-confident and sleek solo effort reminiscent of Tom Petty
and Roger McGuinn
“When You Left Everything Went Right” is certainly among the highlights here. It’s a brutal kiss-off to an ex; however, it is executed with knife-sharp wit and free of angst. Country music is often stereotyped as “cry in your beer” balladry but there is no weeping from Rotella here; instead, it’s an overwhelming feeling of liberation from a sinking relationship. The rocking “Back At It Again” seems to be a continuation of Rotella’s newly found freedom. Musically, the song crackles with youthful energy.
Rotella is equally effective when he slows the tempo down. “Monterosso” is an acoustic beauty, an awe-inspiring marriage of poetry and folk music. But much of All Roads Lead Home
finds Rotella in an upbeat mood. “Shameless” echoes McGuinn’s jangly majesty while “Honey on a Razorblade” packs a wallop with its killer riffs.