With a nod to the hails and strains of gritty Americana, Milwaukee, Wisconsin's Tom Vollman brings 'The Betty Violet', his debut solo LP, into a fold nestled gently between the schism of the high lonesome and the subtle promise of rapt forgiveness. Vollman (or more accurately the character/characters that occupy his wandering lyrics) finds himself in a dizzying swirl of desperation, weaving his way through 11 songs that, each unto their own, reveal stark, motion-picture glimpses into the broken, collective consciousness of rock-n-roll--a sometimes bleak obsession with the inescapable, laced with a hopefulness of tomorrow's would-be fortune. A trickle of blight remission haunts the aptly titled opening track, 'Glass City Lullaby', a wistful elegy on Sylvia Plath, followed by a lovesick ode to the boulevards of Los Angeles (The Sweet Hereafter), and a call to the middle west high plains (Lincoln, NE). Midway through the disc, Vollman pushes love in 3/4 time (White City) and reflections on his native Cincinnati (Day Heights). His ability to fuse image with feeling remains a constant strength as the record resolves in the mournful 'Genevieve'--a late-night haze of bar lights and abandon; 'Bedford', a meditation on the L-train loving, Brooklyn hipster set; and 'Crystal Palace', a repentant, romping track harnessed by the haunting coda, 'pulled down by the undertow.' 'The Betty Violet' harbors the passion of Vollman's live set, capturing the distinctive raw desperation of his acoustic act. The record flows from front to back with a shining swagger--the convincing and overtly believable stride of characters categorizing their experience through the words, images and rhythms of a gifted songwriter. The beauty of the record lies in it's craftsmanship--it's steady hooks promise more with each listen, while it's thoughtful lyrics power an endless, ever-evolving story.