Ronnie Fauss: I Am The Man You Know I’m Not
On Ronnie Fauss‘ latest release, I Am The Man You Know I’m Not, he revives the singer-songwriter authenticity missed in the past several years of music. While pop stars like Nicki Minaj and One Direction top the charts, Fauss reminds the listener that there is more to music than what plays on the radio. Granted, he doesn’t always deliver the most accessible message, but at the very least, he forces you to digest his raw formula–no matter what song you listen to.
Opening track, “The Night Before The War,” opens with a calming guitar riff that surprisingly leads into a twangy, quick, typical country instrumental. If you didn’t know Fauss performed alt-country, you would be taken back by the section immediately following the first few seconds of the song. Vocally, Fauss is somewhere between Johnny Cash and Joe Cocker, channeling Cash’s tone while copping Cocker’s grit. It’s an interesting combination that is well suited for the type of country Fauss plays.
Fauss’s strong points emerge in songs like “Good Enough,” where he croons over light guitars that swells into a sympathetic chorus. The band is toned down to let Fauss shine–and indeed he does–delivering nostalgic lyrics that perfectly demonstrate his down-to-earth nature. Another peak of the album, “I Can’t Remember (What You Can’t Forget),” opens with Hawaiian-influenced strings. Lyrically, he displays his country roots, telling a story with his words of southern life. “Sin City” features a harmonizing female vocalist that lends a Civil Wars-esque vibe, and the pairing makes the song stand out despite its somewhat forgettable lyrics. In what is perhaps the best song on the album, “Pistols In The Air,” Fauss comically offers contrasting pairs that provide a conflict, playfully talking about professions and politics (“You’re a Republican who recycles who wants to save the earth”). Underneath all of this is a modest love song that offers its story simply and effectively. The concept of opposition seems to be a central theme of the record, manifesting itself subtly in the lyrics and obviously in the title. The album closes with the echo-driven, melancholy “With Love,” another highlight of the album. The poetically realistic imagery Fauss uses suits his style with ease and enables him to show his talents to the fullest.
Sadly, the artistic promise shown in these songs does not last the length of the album. While Fauss is lyrically solid, he relies on the same melodic hooks over and over again as a songwriting crutch. The beginnings of seven out of the ten songs all open with the same country shuffle style, varying only slightly and often in the same key. Fauss’ vocal style is guilty of the same thing; his melodies sound too alike to be original. He picks up influence from other artists – but maybe too much influence (“The Night Before The War” seems to steal the sound of “Four Winds” by Bright Eyes, albeit in a slower, more lighthearted fashion). You can’t call him inconsistent, but you sure can’t call him innovative. All of this makes for a rather annoying album, as listeners can only stand the twangy guitars and limited vocals for so long. Even fans of alt-country might find themselves cringing at Fauss copying himself.
Even though Fauss ticks some boxes in the singer/songwriter category, he lacks much musically. Unfortunately, that makes the album sink where it could have been lifted by the lyrics and creativity. This is Fauss’ first full album, and it definitely shows that he can progress for future releases. He deserves credit for staying true to his influences with a complimentary selection of words, but he needs to stand on his own two feet and build off his own merit if he wants to leave a lasting impression.
MP3: Ronnie Fauss “I Can’t Remember (What You Can’t Forget)”