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Roky Erickson Casts Out All Evil Print E-mail
Written by MAX BLAU   
Tuesday, 20 April 2010
At first glance, True Love Cast Out All Evil appears to simply be another addition to the long lineage of one-off collaborations between talented artists. In this instance, Roky Erickson returns with his first record in 14 years, accompanied by the poised support of fellow Austin natives Okkervil River. Although this project in itself brings two acts together for an expectantly solid, albeit unspectacular collaboration placing a lifelong legendary songwriter next to his younger counterparts, True Love Cast Out All Evil cannot be fully understood and appreciated without some familiarity with Roky Erickson’s tumultuous narrative.
Roky Erickson w/Okkervil River


"True Love Cast Out All Evil"
(ANTI-)
Released April 20, 2010

The tale of Roky Erickson stands as an epitome of the late 1960’s Psychedelic experience as well as a subsequent fallout comparable with other Rock greats such as Brian Wilson and Syd Barrett. While most recognized for his 1966 Proto-Punk classic “You’re Gonna Miss Me” with the 13th Floor Elevators, Erickson’s promising career with the band ended prematurely, as his habitual hard drug use eventually landed him in trouble with the law in 1969. In order to circumvent an impending ten-year jail sentence, Erickson opted to plead guilty by insanity and was committed to an insane asylum—a life-altering experience that resulted not only in rooming with the other more malicious criminally insane inmates but also in regular involuntary electro-shock treatment. After being released in 1972, Erickson sustained his downward spiral, one marked by his derailed career, continued drug addiction, distorted perception of reality, and overall squalid living conditions.

Given this context, True Love Cast Out All Evil is not just remarkable for its display of a once-promising musician coming full circle against all odds. What makes this release so fascinating remains the fact that most of these previously unreleased songs were originally written at various points throughout Erickson’s career, including from his time with the 13th Floor Elevators, his institutionalized years and his lost years out of the spotlight. As a result, this album encompasses an earnest and stirring snapshot of an extremely talented songwriter in his best times, worst periods and everything between.

From the wary melancholy of “Goodbye Sweet Dreams” to the full-bodied attack on “John Lawman,” Erickson provides listeners with some insight to his darker experiences as well as occasional glimmers of his old self. The combined partnership feels effortless as Okkervil River backs Erickson’s efforts while both invigorating the album as well as subtly accentuating his traveled voice in all the right moments. Although this album is undoubtedly focused Roky Erickson, True Love Cast Out All Evil has its most brilliant moments when the collaboration is in full force, particularly as is the case with the haunting minimalism within “Please, Judge” and mid-tempo Americana ballad “Forever.”

In the end, Roky Erikson and Okkervil River deliver a record as heartfelt and honest as Erikson’s own face looks on the album’s cover. Half of his face submerged in the shadows, the other half lighting up his seemingly weary stare, this album feels like a part of Roky Erikson. And with some help from his fellow Austin neighbors, True Love Cast Out All Evil speaks as if the title is something that has occurred for Erickson—that his demons have been kept at bay with the help of some friends, allowing him to focus again on the music that has defined his life.

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