Rod Gator (from the album For Louisiana on Blue Elan Records) (by Lee Zimmerman)
With his powerful new album, For Louisiana, Rod Gator, the artist formerly known as Rod Melancon, offers a touching tribute to his native state by recounting the dire events that transpired during Hurricane Katrina and the tragic tales that followed in its aftermath. Gator shares these scenarios from a series of personal perspectives, allowing each of these songs to resonate in ways that are daringly dramatic, wholly insightful, and obviously affecting.
Opening track, “August 29”, sets the scene, its tentative melody followed by a haunting narrative that foretells the dire scenario soon to follow.
‘Hurricane forming down in the gulf
Mandatory but we never gonna leave
Poppa’s drunk yelling at them storm clouds
Mother Nature got nothing on me’.
The songs that follow lay out a turgid tapestry flush with faith and endurance. The individuals that share their stories are forced to reckon with their fate and, in turn, struggle for their survival. It’s a varied musical tapestry, from the gritty groove of “Chickenhawk”, the assertive strains of “Mermentau Bridge, and the arched and edgy “Staying In Town”, to the mellow meandering of the touching “Out Here in Echo Park” and the regret and remorse imprinted in “Your Goodbye”. The title track itself rings with an anthemic urgency, a resilient rocker that finds its narrator raging at his own circumstance with an undiminished drive and determination. Indeed, Rod Gator’s emotional investment in the material is all too obvious, underscoring the album overall with a conviction and clarity that elevates the effort overall.
Moving and memorable in equal degrees, For Louisiana is one of those albums that takes its creator to a higher plateau. Rod Gator conveys a blend of honesty and humility that leaves an emphatic impression, lessons that linger in the aftermath of life-changing circumstance. And given all of the life-changing scenarios that have befallen so many of us during these tumultuous times, these remarkably revealing songs still manage to resonate even after their final notes fade away. (By Lee Zimmerman)
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