Ah, simplicity. Sometimes thereâ€™s nothing better than the soothing strum of a six string guitar and pleasant folky vocals which interpret lyrical memoirs. San Francisco artist Etienne De Rocher attempts to capture the fleeting stir of the 1960â€™s Greenwich Village folk rock scene made popular by Bob Dylan, Judy Collins, Simon and Garfunkel and producer Tom Wilson.
I had high hopes for De Rocherâ€™s eponymous debut. In a music world filled with fluffy, trifling lyrics and an overdose of sex and fashion, De Rocher seemed like a welcome voice from out of the wilderness. However, it was apparent from the first listen of "Meditation #C.O.B" that he was going for a Paul Simon kind of sound for the fifteen introspections of life on this album. He accomplishes this sound a little too well, as each track seems to follow the familiar path Simon trounced on through much of the sixties and seventies.
Folk music is all about the writing. The genius of Dylan and his brethren Tim Buckley, Nick Drake, Phil Ochs and so many others was their ability to use words surgically to extract the deeply felt angst and loneliness of their souls. Certainly these artists also wrote of joy and observed the human condition as a whole but De Rocher doesnâ€™t even come close to such complex musings. While he manages to pull off some interesting hooks now and then, he only allows the listener to form negligible impressions. The didacticism De Rocher practices leaves the listener hungry for so much more than the tidbits heâ€™s offering.
Vocally, De Rocher does a fine job of adding some intrinsic passion to his songs. He possesses a great gift for styling, much like Simon and British folk rocker Donovan. It would be interesting to hear De Rocher throw in a few covers on the next album just to groove on his interpretive skill.