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Brum Beat, May 94, by Mike Davies.

From Spain by way of Argentinian parents and brief stint in Greenwich Village, singer-songwriter Russo's second album drips 60s troubadour melodies with a warm, almost buttery voice draped across a collection of songs recounting his own experiences and personality schisms. There's dabs of blues and jazz here and there, but the dominant style's rootsy pop in almost a cross between David Blue and Lloyd Cole, and there's no question but that he writes both articulate (if occasionally pretentious) lyrics and hummable tunes, none more so than on the unshakeably infectious Clouds Going Round My Head.

Not an essential album, but one you'll find yourself playing on a regular basis if you ever acquire a copy.


Independent Catalogue, Jan 94, by John Tobler.

A pint of what Rafa Russo's drinking, landlord. Brought up in Spain of Argentinean, French and Jewish heritage, his second album proves that the high-voiced Russo is a prodigious songwriter with vivid lyrical imagination. Produced by Mike Howlett, who decorates the sometimes obtuse lyrics with imaginative vocal and instrumental arrangements, this album reflects two of Russo's influences, Elvis Costello (lyrically, but not all the time) and Lloyd Cole (stylistically).

Goodness knows where Russo's general lyrical inspiration comes from may of these songs sound harmlessly attractive (particularly where the mellow trumpet surreptitiously appears), yet the subject matter often seems difficult.
Impressive but less straightforward and more intellectual than it sounds, 'Despite Myself' could do well despite my reservations.


Rock And Reel, May 94.

Rafa Russo born in Spain and now located in London, via the New York Greenwich Village acoustic scene, has been creating interest on the London acoustic circuit since his debut album a couple of years back. 'Despite Myself' his latest album is a collection that displays this wordsmith in fine form, backed as he is by a thoroughly sympathetic group of musicians who produce the perfect accompaniment to his strained, passionate vocal style, that never threatens to become introverted and self-pitying. The whole album manages to be both original and contains a plethora of thoughtfully, well crafted songs.


Red Cat, March 94, by Johnny Black.

Another singer-songwriterly debut on Mike Howlett's Mauve label (see Jay Fisher above) but, where label-mate Fisher exudes youthful innocence and concern, Russo is more cynical and weary, which sometimes makes him a more powerful lyricist. “I've learned how to cry, I can shed tears in any colours, blue, red or white” he mourns in 'High Is The Mountain', and then wails “I don't know why heaven's cheaper now than it was when I was young” on 'Halfways'. Curiously, like Fisher, he offers a song about meeting a derelict but, by telling it from the tramp's point of view, he too sidestep the clichés.

Musically there's less light, less colour in Russo's work. In some ways, that adds to his claustrophobic vision but occasionally his words seems to dictate his tunes, with music stitched over the top to fill the gaps.

© 2004-2006 Rafa Russo