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ED ROMANOFF —THE ORPHAN KING (Pinerock Records)

www.pinerockrecords.com

Americana singer-songwriter Ed Romanoff is based in Woodstock, New York State, and is a wordy storyteller. A man who has embraced influences of the best (he has attended workshops by Darrell Scott, Beth Nielsen Chapman and Mary Gauthier) his genre has to offer. On listening to some track, my mind strayed to the likes of John Prine and Eric Taylor.   

The Orphan Kind was produced by near neighbour, Simon Felice (a busy man)and recorded just a few miles down the road at his barn studio in Palenville, New York. Players on the album to go with Ramanoff’s guitar and lead vocals include Felice on drums, Larry Campbell (electric, bass guitar, mandolin, fiddle, cittern), James Felice (keyboards, accordian, harmonium, vocals), Cindy Cashdollar (steel guitar, lap steel) and Lee Nadel (bass) and others. Never over bearing, I believe the production brings near the best out of Romanoff. I say near best because the record does on occasions become a little predictable (no bad thing when predictable is as good as it is here), in need of a little variation to suit his songs. Then again it could be the balance of songs could have been better selected!   

Cindy Mizelle's (E-Street Band) lends her effective female harmonies on “Less Broken Now” and “Coronation Blues” while Campbell’s wife, Teresa Williams puts her talent to use on the artful “The Orphan King” and has an equally pleasing effect on the sublime pedal steel warmed “Elephant Man”. John Prine-esque! Yes, it is that good. Sounds like Prine of old. I had to pinch myself to check it wasn’t the great master. “The Orphan King” is a co-write with Gauthier, and when it comes to reflective tales “I’ll Remember You” is, in comparison to most tracks it might be short, but nevertheless impressionable. Likewise can be said of the soul leaning all-fired up “The Night Is A Woman”.  

Getting back to Taylor-esque work, “Miss Worby’s Ghost” has all the attributes. The unique feel and shaping of a song intact. Brilliant! Romanoff has learnt his lessons well. His eye for detail, and I am not only talking lyrics but little muses here and there. As he weaves his finely spun tapestry with astute guile and grace. 

While Romanoff penned most of the songs, solo, there’s a handful of co-writes with Crit Harmon; one such song is the wonderful “The Ballad Of Willie Sutton”, and with it enjoying the likes of jaunty simple delight “Without You” (that has Milk Carton Kid, Kenneth Pattengale shine on vocals, guitar and mandolin) and with some of the most assured lead vocals on the record, break-up song “Leavin’ With Someone Else”. Followed by the likewise compelling, and arguably stronger still “Less Broken Now”, steeped in fiddle, pedal steel, mandolin and killer harmony vocals it near blows the lid off. Such is the album, Romanoff is forever coming through with unexpected highs and in mystical ode “The Ballad Of Willie Sutton”, and on releasing some of the tension love ballad “Blue Boulevard (Na Na Na)”. Warmed in three part harmonies, harmonium and classic fiddle (Campbell) he could not have been given better support. For more fiddle (and this occasion you can add cittern and Brian Morrisey’s Bodhran) check out another co-write with Harmon “A Golden Crown”. 

Sombre ode “Lost And Gone” is part artful, part soul searching, and part mystical as he taps into people’s fear of war and faith things will be okay roll into one. “Coronation Blues” is a gritty, forceful song that many an act would be justly proud in the world of the Americana singer-songwriter close an album. 

            Maurice Hope         

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April 2018

1
Courtney Marie Andrews
100 pts.
May Your Kindness Remain
Loose Music
PK,CVL,DHO,JB,LK
2
Mary Gauthier
59 pts.
Rifles And Rosary Beads
In the Black Records
 
3
Caleb Caudle
49 pts.
Crushed Coins
Cornelius Chapel Records
TJ,TK,MP
4
Western Centuries
48 pts.
Songs From The Deluge
Free Dirt Records
DD,GS,FS,HM
5
Vivian Leva
44 pts.
Time is Everything
Free Dirt Records
 
6
Ed Romanoff
42 pts.
The Orphan King
Pinerock Records
 
7
Grant Peeples
41 pts.
Settling Scores vol. 2
Continental
AN
8
Joan Baez
32 pts.
Whistle Down The Wind
Proper Records
 
9
Jeb Barry and the Pawn Shop Saints
29 pts.
Texas, etc...
DollyRocker
MF,HDB
 
Sam Morrow
29 pts.
Concrete and Mud
Forty Below Records
JV
11
Chris Smither
27 pts.
Call Me Lucky
Signature Sounds
JSM,JD
12
Michael McDermott
26 pts.
Out From Under
Continental Song City
CRS
13
John Prine
24 pts.
The Tree of Forgiveness
Oh Boy Records
SP
14
Mary Chapin Carpenter
23 pts.
Sometimes Just The Sky
Lambent Light Records
 
15
Dean Owens
22 pts.
Southern Wind
At The Helm
PJ
16
6 String Drag
21 pts.
Top of The World
Schoolkids Records
FCE,JS
 
Haley Heynderickx
21 pts.
I Need To Start A Garden
Mama Bird Recordings
 
 
Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats
21 pts.
Tearing At The Seams
Stax Records
RM
19
Abe Partridge
20 pts.
Cotton Fields And Blood For Days
Skate Mountain
MVP,RK
 
Adam James Sorensen
20 pts.
Dust Cloud Refrain
Continental Song City
BM
 
Ben Reel
20 pts.
Land Of Escape
B REEL Records
 
 
Chip Taylor
20 pts.
Fix Your Words
Train Wreck Records
LM
 
Kesia Nagata
20 pts.
Looking For Horses
Caramal Productions
GC,EZ
 
Sheesham & Lotus & 'Son
20 pts.
Clear The Table
SepiaPhone Records
SZ,PG
25
3hattrio
18 pts.
Lord of the Desert
Okehdokee Records
 
 
Marlon Williams
18 pts.
Make Way for Love
Dead Oceans

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