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Music Review: Rocco DeLuca & the Burden – I Trust You to Kill Me

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“He’s tried to escape it. He’s tried to silence it. But for Jack Bauer… instinct never dies.” Must work that way for “24” star Kiefer Sutherland in real life, too.

Seems intuition is what led our fictional counter terrorist operative to end up as the manager for singer-songwriter Rocco DeLuca. Both Sutherland and pop craftsman/ producer Jude Cole went to see the Long Beach native on a gut feeling – thinking he might be right for their new label, Ironworks. None of them could have predicted a non-conformist rock triumvirate might emerge. 

Shrewd and organic, DeLuca and his band The Burden excel with mid-tempo numbers like “Gift,” “Colorful” and a dusty, Dobro-filled “Dope” – which somehow conjures old saloons and tumbleweeds. The ballads “Mystified” and “Bus Ride” show a softer side to DeLuca's distinct, resonant voice and countrified approach to his love songs. He can get a bit over-the-top in places (“Gravitate”) trying to prove to you that he can rock it out.

And yet, it feels like a petty complaint. There just isn’t a bad spot on the album.

You have to admire DeLuca’s nothing to lose approach; the air of danger and confidence makes his work sexy. I Trust You to Kill Me is a sharp, jangly roots-rock romp laced with bluegrass and countrified leanings. Cole’s expert production brings those mapled vocals and stellar Dobro work out in front of the mix. Folks like Jack Johnson and Ben Harper will toy with that slide/steel Dobro sound. Clearly, DeLuca’s got a pro’s handle on it. 

DeLuca’s got all the right stuff: musical pedigree (Dad played guitar for Bo Diddley); high profile endorsements and gigs (everyone from John Mayall to the late Johnny Cash), and DeLuca was weaned on music that “had heat.” Having a Hollywood celebrity and platinum-selling songwriter in your corner apparently doesn’t hurt either. Both this disc and the I Trust You to Kill Me documentary are well worth the time.

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About Peter Chakerian