Daniel Romano Makes Some New Myths

Monday, 31 May 2010

It has long been contended that some of the best songs ever made tell a story and that is a reasonable assertion, but the truth is that sometimes there's a little more to it than that. Sometimes what really makes a song stick with people is a combination of the images created by the lyrics and the character of the music, with some additional knowledge of the auteur; it's less tangible, but sometimes that is the truly enduring quality of it. In effect, while the songs on a given album might be really good, they are complimented by the stories surrounding both the song and the artist and listeners find themselves smiling as they think of the correlation between the artist and the situation that the artist was in which ultimately yielded or inspired the song. Some would say that's how legends get made.

It's unlikely that Attack In Black singer/guitarist Daniel Romano would call himself a legend, but the seeds of that impression start getting sewn when the singer begins to talk about his new solo record, Workin' For The Music Man, and his upcoming tour to promote it. “I'm really hoping this works out well,” confesses Romano as he begins his story. “This upcoming tour around Ontario that I'm doing is being done in a 1971 Mercedes Sedan. I traded a guy for it; I traded him a motorcycle and a guitar for a Mercedes. It hasn't run too bad so far, so I'm just hoping it still holds up for the tour because I'm not going to have a whole lot of help while I'm out this time [chuckling] –  I'm going to do them alone for the most part. My girlfriend, Misha, who sings on the record, is going to accompany me at some of the shows, but I think I'm going to be on my own outside of that which I haven't done much before.”

In fact, there is precious little about Workin' For The Music Man that Romano's fans have heard the singer do before. Those that grew to know Daniel Romano as the frontman for Attack In Black won't be surprised by the singer's debut solo album because he has once again completely changed creative gears this time out but, by the same token, they'll be shocked when they hear which gear he's taken. From the moment the title track that opens the record begins to play, 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. Instead, what plays out here is a far older form of roots country that no one could have possibly seen coming from Daniel Romano; and the surprise is that it works incredibly well. 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 to 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 – even though that might not have actually been the plan, as the singer will candidly admit. “It's funny how it finally came together and how the album took shape,” says Romano as he recalls the circumstances that eventually saw the record fall together with an ease bordering on cavalier. “I had just gotten home after making an album with Julie Doiron and Fred Squire [Daniel, Fred & Julie, released on You've Changed Records -ed] and I found that I had a bunch of time off. I had no real intention of making an album until it just sort of became one – you know? I actually made it a couple of times; I kept doing it until I really felt like I got it right which meant that, ultimately, I put a lot more time into it than I have with anything else – ever. That was sort of good and bad I think; I'm not sure if I could say that I obsessed over it, but I certainly considered it a lot more. It wasn't as immediate or organic as some of the other music I've done before was. It doesn't sound any different [chuckling], but the process was a little different for me.

"As I say, I already had some songs done when I started to even consider calling it a record but, after I decided I wanted to make an album out of it, I set the goal of making some more songs, but I kept second-guessing myself,” continues the singer. “I wanted Workin' For The Music Man to be stripped down, but I got nervous because I wasn't being accompanied by a band. I don't know why, but I felt scared to be that bare; I was afraid to let them just be songs without the accompaniment of a band. I did a couple of sessions where I'd write a bunch of songs, then realize I didn't like some of them so I'd write some more. I picked the best ones out of that lot and recorded them and I mixed them once, but I wasn't really happy with the first mix so I did it again and that really changed the sound of the record so I was happy with it.”

After the whole thing was finally complete and a few more twists and turns in the plot passed, Romano elected to release the album on his own imprint, You've Changed Records. Workin' For The Music Man is due in stores and online on June 1, 2010, but that isn't where the story ends; now emboldened by the final results of his first solo venture, Romano says that he has already completed a new grip of songs for a follow-up album and hopes to have it released by September, 2010. “I think the next thing I do might be a little more stripped down, like I wanted with Workin' For The Music Man originally,” says Romano confidently. “I want to have another record out in September – well, maybe October. The songs are written and now it's just a matter of recording it. I think I'd like to call it Allergy Season [laughing]. That probably sounds like a funny title, but I've already done a demo recording of the album and I was super-congested at the time and, the way I've sort of planned it, I'm inevitably going to be recording it in the summer at some point; in which case I'll still be congested so it's likely to be even more nasally than Working For the Music Man was so it seemed like the perfect title. Those are pretty much my plans for the next few months along with the Mercedes tour but, after I get that next batch of songs recorded and released, I'd like to do some more touring. I'm finding that, while I was a little nervous at recording songs without a band initially, I'm starting to like the idea of taking a guitar out with me – that's it – and just playing.”


Further Reading:

Workin' For The Music Man CD review on Ground Control.


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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