Daniel Romano – [Album]

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Ever been surprised by those moments when a musician takes a significant creative turn that didn't even appear to be on the horizon? It's not uncommon for fans to only be acquainted with a musician through his body of work – that's how artists are introduced to the public – so any psychological profile or assessment of musical values that listeners might develop (if that's something you're prone to doing) is based on a very outward-facing persona. In that sense, records are much like photographs; while a picture might be worth a thousand words, they seldom tell any story completely and such is the case with Daniel Romano – as Workin' For The Music Man indicates.

Those that grew to know Romano as the frontman for Attack In Black both will and won't be surprised by the singer's debut solo album. That Workin' For The Music Man is a very different type of record from anything Attack In Black has done before won't surprise fans because, frankly, every record Attack In Black has ever done has borne little resemblance to any of the others. What will surprise listeners is just how very different it is from virtually everything else to which the singer's name has been attached though; there is no hint of the punk rock that AIB started with present, nor are there any of the permutations of alt-rock that the band has toyed with since for that matter. What plays out here is an examination of some far older country roots that no one could have reasonably seen coming from Daniel Romano.

It's funny too because any doubt that Workin' For The Music Man may have started out as a larf gets removed when listeners notice that the singer is battling back laughter by the second verse of the opening title track. While Romano might have to stifle himself a little in the beginning, it's difficult to tell if it's because the music is hitting a little too close to home (those that know Romano know that there is a healthy amount of enthusiasm for country music in his family), or if it's because the album was recorded off the cuff and quickly, so it's still a bit novel. That question gets dispelled  as trivial though, as digging a little deeper into the title track reveals an attention paid to detail that most tossed off tracks just wouldn't get; buried and almost unnoticed in the background of the title track tap a set of percussive implements (spoons maybe) that keep time and give a bit of texture to the song, as well as a harmonica added for emphasis. Listeners may have chuckled a bit when the song first started, but they won't be by song's end because it turns from 'larf' to 'leading' pretty quickly.

As soon as “Missing Wind” kicks up, Romano's transition from weekend country player to genuine balladeer is complete and surprisingly strong. The singer is clearly reveling in the change of pace as songs including “A Losing Song,” “She Was The World To Me,” “Poor Girls Of Ontario,” “Your Hands” and “Greatest Mistake” all see Romano taking well to the task of genre songwriting, but there's more to it than that too; he's pouring himself into these songs like it's something he's done all his life – or wanted to – and this is his chance to prove it. Here, Romano has something to prove to listeners so he chicken-picks his finest and puts his heart on the line to win listeners'. From that angle, Workin' For The Music Man is a tremendously affecting set and whether you like country music or not becomes irrelevant; the record plays solidly as a labor of love and anyone listening can feel that.


Further Reading:
Ground Control's interview with Daniel Romano-May 31, 2010


Daniel Romano – "A Losing Song" – Workin' For The Music Man


Workin' For The Music Man
comes out on June 1, 2010 through You've Changed Records. Pre-order it here on Amazon .

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