Rosedale Junction – The Last Rodeo
Center Block Records
9 songs, 1 hour, 3 minutes
The great thing about music is that talent doesn’t care if you come to it early in life or late in life. Howlin’ Wolf was in his 40’s when he really broke through. So was Wes Montgomery and Sharron Jones and many others. Boston based Rosedale Junction is led by guitarist songwriter Toby Soriero, a long time professional player with a day job in “corporate America.” In 2020 Soriero ditched the day job and the next year released the hard charging Junction debut Stompin’ On the Front Porch. Follow up The Last Rodeo retains Stompin’s collaborative spirit, including 4 different singers. However, where Stompin’ was a pretty pure Blues Rock blast, Rodeo is an introspective cycle of 60’s atmospheric ballad Rock performed with clarity and fidelity to the source inspiration.
Rosedale Junction is a guitar band. Leader Soriero is a clean guitarist with a big well sculpted tone reminiscent of David Gilmore. This tone perfectly fits the Pink Floyd vibe of many of the tracks. Singers Dgiovahni Denize, Kristin Lawler, Sam Tuten, and Rachel Gavaletz all handle lead vocal duties with Lawler and Tyra Juliet offering some background vocal support. Soriero lays in the bass on all tracks and is accompanied by a core rhythm section of Roger Smith on various keys and Jim Riley on drums. Adding flourishes on various tracks are Andy Ellison on a beautifully keening pedal steel guitar, Vito Gutilla lush-ing things up with violin, Steve Stizzo adding omp-ah on accordion and horn flashes from Matt Soriero and Mark Morgan.
Toby Soriero is not just a guitarist but he is also a prolific songwriter. 8 of the 9 tunes on this record are originals. With a clear writing voice, Soriero tells stories, through his various vocalists, about love, aging and the daily drama of life. The lilting Country ballad “Little Long Haired Angel” features Sam Tuten in a plain spoken warble and Stizzo’s accordion drones channeling Flaco Jimenez. The dark thrum of “Goin’ Down to Walpole” featuring Tuten and Guitilla’s mournful violin is about the maximum security prison in Walpole, MA that stands gray in a large patch of median land between the north and south bound lanes of I95.
In spite of Soriero’s strong songwriting voice, the centerpiece of The Last Rodeo is an 11 minute rendition of the Felton Robinson classic “Loan Me a Dime.” Featuring educator and mezzo-soprano vocalist Kristin Lawler, this version of “Loan Me” is in direct lineage to Boz Scaggs’s 1969 version. Junction’s version replaces the Duane Allmen fueled fire and mania of Scaggs’ version with a brooding introspection. The extended guitar solos highlight Soriero’s clean, well manicured Clapton and Gilmore style.
The Last Rodeo is a solid cathartic listen. It’s the kind of music you put on when you want to ruminate about the difficult times we are living in, maybe with some brown liquid in a rocks glass. It is also a pretty stark departure from the bruising brawling bravado of the band’s 2021 debut. It’s exciting when a band can keep their sound moving and changing. It makes one that much more interested to hear the next chapter.