Flyinshoes Review

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Ed Romanoff’s debut album shows all the signs of being a long time in the gestation, with ten original songs that dig deep in their search for truth. Along the way to becoming a recording artist in his own right Ed has made good friends of Mary Gauthier, Josh Ritter and Crit Harmon (who produced this record), all good people to have around whilst finding your feet as a singer-songwriter in the Americana mould.

Between Ed’s sonorous baritone voice and arrangements that feature strings and horns in carefully layered style, this whole record demands you to stop and pay attention, because this is weighty stuff. The lightest that Ed gets is on the humorously affectionate I Must Have Done Something Right where he recalls all the terrible things he’s done to his best mate, who somehow remains his best mate despite it all. There are some good lines in here which ring very true (“that night I slept with your sister/You know I meant to keep that a secret”); it’s typical of Ed’s writing on this record that he seeks out the things that it hurts to drag out into the light of day – he’s not going to be satisfied with anything that’s merely anodyne.

From that point we kind of circle down through human experience, from the things that sneak up on you and knock you sideways (Curveball), through unrequited love (Breakfast for one on the 5th of July) to the truly bleak tales of a man who disappeared one winter’s day (Lady Luck) and the couple making out in a car, shot seemingly at random by a man going by (Two Yellow Roses). He survived, she didn’t. Along the way he tackles his own confused identity, having discovered as an adult that the man who brought him up was not his biological father. If all of these songs are tales from his own life, then I feel the man could do with some lucky breaks, but his tone is contemplative and gentle; where he could be bitter and angry he opts instead for a spirit of enquiry, trying to figure out why life turns out the way it does. In adopting this stance he enables us to weave our own experiences and problems into his material – he’s a man to listen to when you’re feeling a bit embattled. If you’re looking for comparisons, I’d suggest a midpoint between Richmond Fontaine and John Prine.

The one thing I absolutely don’t get here is his funereally-paced take on the old country classic, I Fall to Pieces. His voice seems even lower here, whilst the big echo on the bass string and lap steel as they sketch the outline of the melody seems like some sort of “concept” for the song that just doesn’t work for me. He sounds artful, not lovelorn, and I don’t think it does this otherwise fine debut album any favours at all. Still, the man is picking up awards for his songwriting  so there’s a good chance that Ed Romanoff will be making waves in the Americana world.

 

John Davy

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1
Rod Picott
70 pts.
Out Past The Wires
Welding Rod Music
GC,AN,LM,SZ,TK
2
JW Roy & The Royal Family
62 pts.
A Room Full Of Strangers
Royal Family Records
EM,PJ,DH
3
Steph Cameron
61 pts.
Daybreak over Jackson Street
Pheromona
ML
4
JD McPherson
54 pts.
Undivided Heart & Soul
New West
AR,RK,LK
5
Sarah Morris
53 pts.
Hearts In Need Of Repair
Independent
 
6
Turnpike Troubadours
52 pts.
Long Away From Your Heart
Bossier City Records
MA,GF
7
Chris Hillman
51 pts.
Bidin' My Time
Rounder
 
8
Hayward Williams
39 pts.
Pretenders
Why River Records
KG,JB,JBO
9
Joe Henry
38 pts.
Thrum
Ear Music
 
10
Jim White
37 pts.
Waffles, Triangles & Jesus
Loose Music
JJ
12
Margo Price
35 pts.
All American Made
Third Man Records
 
11
Mark Martyre
35 pts.
Rivers
Independent
MF
13
Mavis Staples
32 pts.
If All I Was Was Black
Anti
HO
 
Peter Oren
32 pts.
Anthropocene
Western Vinyl
RB,HB
15
Fred Wickham
29 pts.
Mariosa Delta
Thirty Days Records
 
16
Jeffrey Martin
27 pts.
One Go Around
Fluff & Gravy Records
HDB
17
Blitzen Trapper
25 pts.
Wild and Reckless
Lojinx
JDO
 
Jeff Crosby
25 pts.
Postcards From Magdalena
At The Helm Records
FCE,FC,JS
19
Dori Freeman
24 pts.
Letters Never Read
Blue Hens Music
 
 
Hardpan
24 pts.
Hardpan
Blue Rose Records
WR
21
The Deep Dark Woods
21 pts.
Yarrow
Six Shooter
JF
22
Lilly Hiatt
20 pts.
Trinity Lane
New West
TJ
 
Tom Russell
20 pts.
Folk Hotel
Frontera Records-Proper Records
JAB
24
Eilen Jewell
19 pts.
Down Hearted Blues
Signature Sounds
MW
25
Dick LeMasters
18 pts.
Incompatible Things
Longneck Road Music
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