Daniel Romano – [Album]

Thursday, 10 March 2011

As much fun as it can be to over-intellectualize a musician's growth and evolution from album to album, sometimes the changes that occur between points A and B in an artist's output are simply natural developments. The differences which exist between Daniel Romano's Workin' For The Music Man (released last year) and this year's Sleep Beneath The Willow are a perfect example of that; having taken a short break from his main squeeze, Attack In Black, the singer was inspired by the low-fi and off-the-cuff time he has with Daniel, Fred & Julie and decided that he wanted more. Romano had a bit of fun writing “genre songs” and committing them to tape in his home studio (there are moments on Workin' For The Music Man where listeners half-expect the singer to burst out laughing), but was genuinely surprised at the warm reception his work received. At that point, the question of whether or not there was something to Romano's country dabbling was validated  and answered and the first seeds of Sleep Beneath The Willow were sewn.

Now, there are common threads that exist between Sleep Beneath The Willow and its' predecessor, but that doesn't mean the records are of the same breed. Like the material Romano recorded with Daniel, Fred  Julie, both Workin' For… and Sleep Beneath… boast different shades of Country music, but that the singer is taking the idea more seriously this time is evident from the moment “Time Forgot (To Change My Heart)” rolls open the record. Now backed by some supporting musicians (Tamara Lindeman, Lisa Bozikovic and Natalie Walker, on backing vocals, banjo and violin) to add just the right “Opry” flavor, Romano really focuses on the 'country' side of the 'country-folk' first put forth by Workin' For The Music Man and cuts out the novelty completely. Here, Romano croons stoically against a laid back Southern swing through songs like “Lost (For As Long As I Live),” “Louise,” “I Won't Let It” and “There Are Lines In My Face” and does so with a surprising amount of authority; through about half of the record, it's very easy to believe that a Canadian kid from a once-industrial center may actually have been born and raised somewhere in the American Heartland. To further drive that possibility, those moments when Romano shifts gears through this run-time – like in “Helen's Restaurant” (which may be named for a little deli in St. Catharines, but plays like the only boogie-woogying, honky-tonking hit that Waylon and Willie didn't write), “Louise” (which exemplifies that place where a love song becomes a lament), “Paul And Jon” (which sounds like a Baptist revival) and “Never Forced A Smile” (which, seeming to have been recorded in mono initially, sounds a whole lot older than the singer) – do so in such a way that they seem as if they were done by a seasoned veteran, not a rank sophomore. In that, Sleep Beneath The Willow actually sounds and feels like a mature work for Daniel Romano and, as worrisome as it may be for the state of Attack In Black, will leave listeners excited to hear what the singer might have in store for them next.



Danial Romano – “Time Forgot (To Change My Heart)” – Sleep Beneath The Willow


Sleep Beneath The Willow
comes out on April 5, 2011 via You've Changed Records. Pre-order it here on Amazon .

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