Rodney Brillante is not faking it. Every word, note, experience and feeling this California native pours into his folk-rooted acoustic rock is absolutely genuine, offering us sincerity that's as powerful as it is rare. Though his music has drawn favorable comparisons to singer/songwriters like Ray Lamontagne and fellow surfer Jack Johnson, it's clear this kid is doing his own thing. Rodney sings with the kind of disarmingly soulful voice that chills spines as easily as it reddens cheeks. Combine that with his gift for melody and songs that hit on profound emotions we've all experienced and it's almost impossible not to feel moved by his music. Rodney got his start as a student at the University of California at Davis. He quickly went from playing tiny open mics to booking local gigs to playing a prime spot at Picnic Day, the University's annual open house and the largest student-run event in the country. Since then, he's played to adoring crowds on both sides of the United States. Taking time between shows in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he now makes his home, Rodney hit the studio to record his debut album, a collection of songs as instantly charming as Rodney is himself-which is to say, very. Rodney's heady, heartfelt lyrics strike a balance between love won, love lost and the goings on of the world around us. Accompanying himself alternately with acoustic guitar and ukulele-and backed by a phenomenal collection of studio musicians-these original tunes feel as intimate as a stolen kiss. This independently-crafted, self-released debut shows off Rodney Brillante's chops as both as a singer and a songwriter, marking a confident first step by one intensely talented up-and-comer. -- Jeff Reguilon.