by Guest writer Jason Gartshore of Americana Review
The current state of country music is a hotly debated subject in several music circles. The widespread popularity of the most current incarnation of what is considered country is undeniable, but there remains a small group of rebel artists out there that are not buckling to the pressures of mainstream country music stardom. Indeed, these modern day outlaw musicians such as Sturgill Simpson, Jamey Johnson, Jason Isbell, Kasey Musgraves and Brandy Clark are carving out a little piece of the traditionalist pie while making some real hay on the music scene. Among these wonderful artists who is picking up the traditionalist flag is Welland, Ontario’s own Daniel Romano releasing his fifth album “If I’ve Only One Time Asking” on independent powerhouse New West Records.
Released on July 31st, Romano takes the listener on a journey back in time with a record that harkens back to a real classic, Nashville country sound. The uniqueness of Romano’s creativity comes through with some of the psychedelic interludes between the tracks on the album. The effect is what sets Romano apart and showcases another side of his immense talent.
Leading off with “I’m Gonna Teach You”, Romano makes clear that his heart lies in the old school of classic country music. It’s a great song about revenge on an abusive boyfriend/husbandand could be told from the perspective of a woman’s brother. “I’m Gonna Teach You” is a short song, containing only one verse and the chorus. The string section adds classic country feel. The song highlights Romano’s unique ability to capture the pain of George Jones, the growl of Conway Twitty and the soul of Keith Whitley. The listener learns right away that this gentleman is a special talent.
“Old Fires Die” speaks to the slow demise of a marriage, and features a killer line “I get more happiness from a bottle, and more love from a stranger.” The line captures the bitterness and sorrow of the subject matter in all its painful glory.
“Strange Faces” is a solid mid-tempo number that will appeal to steel guitar aficionados, with that instrument featured prominently. This is a great song of awakening, liberation and acceptance reminiscent of singer-songwriter Murray McLaughlin’s earlier material.
“If I’ve Only One Time Asking”, the title track, is a lyrical wonderpiece, a finely crafted tune that leaves the listener with a few ways to interpret the story. Does the lead get the girl at the end after professing his true love? Or does he get spurned by the object of his affection?
“The One That Got Away”, the album’s first single is just a killer song. It’s a familiar story of a young man suffering a broken heart, but what sets this song apart from the field is the way the main character discovers his lover has chosen a past flame over him. The despondent lines “the one that got away, came back today” and “from lover, to yesterday’s news” captures the disappointment and hurt that we’ve all felt at some point in our lives.
((( Listen to The One That Got Away here )))
“Two Word Joe” is a fun little up tempo song about a guy whom love drives insane, to the point where he only speaks to words at a time, mostly reminiscing about the end of his past loves.
While country music may be experiencing a general identity crisis, with the subject matter focusing more on tailgate parties, tan lines, pickup trucks and girls in tight tops and short shorts, it’s comforting to know that artists like Daniel Romano are around to remind us that some purveyors of country music are sticking true to their roots. “If I’ve Only One Time Asking” is a fine example of that strength.