paying attention. But Rossiter's singing and songwriting are at Hoodang's center. If you like the parade of ornery hard-luck characters who have wound their way through Steve Earle's albums, or the tough, edgy romantic characterizations of the grassroots Ontario iconoclast Fred Eaglesmith, be aware that there's a local figure who can play in their league. And he's got a dry leather strap of a voice to go with his songs.
Rossiter is a storyteller first and foremost. He has a few honky-tonk tunes like the uptempo-swing "Jump Start My Heart," but even these seem to have a tale of woe lurking in the background ("Feel like I'm ready for the scrap heap/Ain't nothin' much to salvage anyway"). More often he sketches an individual in quite a bit of detail, often inhabiting the subject in first person. "Memory Lapse" is about a prisoner who has committed a terrible crime while so drunk that "even if you'd asked me, I couldn't've told you my name," and:
| It makes my blood run cold |
As the Red River in December
To think I'm servin' time
For a crime I don't remember.
As the song goes on, instrumental solos let the detail sink in for the listener and then bits and pieces of the crime begin to come back to the man. Rossiter has a rare knack for the key to a good murder ballad: it has to keep you transfixed by the crime but also a bit off balance by the unfolding of events.