Rob Raroux



Motif Magazine, June 2007

'Hard Times' call for vocal artists

We are living in troubled times.

 I don't believe there is a citizen of this great nation on either side of the aisle who would disagree with that assertion.  

Perhaps the seemingly peaceful Clinton-era lulled us into a mass false sense of impenetrability, an illusion that became painfully crystalline on September 11, 2001. For the first time in generations, a mass of people were jarred awake from an overwhelmingly prevailing apathy and found their own personal safeties and ultimately liberties in question.


Something severe had to be done, with that there was little debate. But as is often so, the devil is in the details. The government's ensuing, controversial actions have been roundly criticized, to a point now where doing so is almost in vogue. To prove that position, one need only look to the most recent Rosie O'Donnell imbroglio, which seemed to amass more news coverage in a five day span than did the Iraq War, our crumbling environment, and upcoming presidential elections combined!


However, in the early days of the political insurrection, there were small packets of dissenters, usually hailing from the arts & entertainment field, who were immediately branded "unpatriotic," "un-American," and inevitably unemployed. Humorist Bill Maher lost a highly rated and critically acclaimed network television program, and The Dixie Chicks lost countless confederate flag-waving fans, most of whom never to return. But that is a small levy to pay to any artist worth his or her weight in gold, for speaking truth to power. That fine tradition is bravely upheld within each and every track of Rob Raroux's latest CD Hard Hard Times.


Hailing from nearby Connecticut, Raroux is a uniquely gifted and prolific singer-songwriter with over two decades of experience under his belt. He is currently in the midst of a recording project consisting of a breathtaking 72 compositions, culminating in six new albums!


One of those six is this 13-song tour de force, which is made all the more distinguished by some of the very special guests Raroux assembled. Local folkies Aubrey Atwater & Elwood Donnelly, master of the harp Chris Turner, the colossal vocal styling of Kim Trusty, and steel-guitarist Buddy Cage (whose credits include Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks) all lend their talent to this singularly exceptional record.


However, cameo walk-ons do not make an album great. Indeed the greatness comes in Rob Raroux's ability to put in song what so many people are feeling, but have no outlet to express.


Like Baez, Dylan, Guthrie and the troubadours of old, Raroux gives a voice to the listener by providing a narrative that relates directly to what those countless are feeling. From the album's opening title track, he articulates the everyman's point of view, "Working two jobs all day and night - Just to break even is a great big fight....Can they save your life? They just don't know. Gotta check first with the HMO.... People keep votin' em in again and they keep doing us in."


Undeniably, Raroux is at his absolute razor-sharpest when dealing with issues of President Bush. In "Cradle of Civilization,"he takes on the administration with uncloaked clarity, "On the deck of the carrier they said this war was won. But the bombs are still explodin', looks like it just begun ....They told us that the reason they were sending us to war was all them terrible weapons aimed right at our shore, But them tools of mass destruction never did they show." In "Katrina" Raroux's impugnment is even more direct, "Guess we all don't count much to that cowboy, what a fool - Next thing he'll tell us it's what Jesus said to do." And speaking of religion, "A Bible With a Missing Page" takes a satirical look at what Raroux deems to be pious hypocrisy: "They'll tell you every chapter, each verse, each book, each Age - But I swear sometimes their Bibles must be missing a page." It is only lack of column space that prevents me from delving further into the music on Hard Hard Times. But make no mistake, the musicianship on this album serves only to uplift all of the noteworthy lyrical content.


In today's political climate, Rob Raroux takes on a certain amount of peril by openly expressing his opinions in the manner that he has chosen. To that end, he comments in the disc's liner notes "I honestly wrestled with the idea of this project, knowing full well that I will run the risk of being misunderstood, perhaps offending those who would disagree with my view ....May our sacred liberties remain intact now and for future generations, even in the face of external threats which might otherwise tempt us to curtail them." 

 That, in my humble opinion, is patriotism personified.


Don DiMuccio -



Block Island Days Review

“Block Island Days” encompasses a wide variety of musical styles, but it is powered mostly by fluid vocals and acoustic guitar.  The title track is upbeat and moves quickly, while the album then progresses to a peaceful journey to the beach at night, accompanied by Aubrey Atwater playing a melodious whistle.  In “From Black Rock Beach”, a listener can hear the serenity that is the beach at night, with “Thunder-crashing waves/Foaming white in motion”.

“Wreck of the Palatine” is an appropriately haunting account of that ill-fated ship.  The song is written by Rob Raroux and performed by Atwater-Donnelly, who recount, “And so the cursed were haunted for their ill-gotten gain/By the Ghost Ship Palatine which sailed across the main”.  It is a rare song which can meld a story and music perfectly, but this song does just that.

Even if it weren’t the only album dedicated to Block Island, “Block Island Days” would still be worth buying.  In its peaceful melodies, this album holds the key to surviving the winter--- the summer is always closer, and Block Island just around the corner, when “Block Island Days” is in the CD player.

The Block Island Summer Times
Fall 2006 Issue




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