DESPITE MYSELF - (MAUVED002)
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.
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.
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.
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.