Flyinshoes Review

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PHARIS & JASON ROMERO —A PASSING GLIMPSE (Lula Records)

www.jasonandpharis.com 

Hmmm… who are these guys? Well Pharis and Jason Romero are North American old-time musicians who live in a log cabin deep in woods of British Columbia. Pharis is a wonderful, sweet-toned vocalist possessing hints of Gillian Welch while Jason is a banjo picker, vocalist and as is the case with Pharis a banjo maker too.  So good is their product Ricky Skaggs and Dirk Powell among others play one.

 

With them stuck in the old traditional style of playing (1920s-1950s) and singing it is of no surprise that I noted a similarity to Welch, and though her voice boasts a likeness on one or two tracks Pharis and Jason are far from a Welch – Rawlings sound-a-like! Even if their playing and general shaping of songs are directed that way.

 

There is an abundance of flowing melodies, sibling-like vocal harmonies as guitar and banjo join the couple who co-write the opening track. While Pharis not only writes the title-track, ‘A Passing Glimpse’ but the lively ‘Dad’s Song’, claw-hammer banjo escorted ‘Only Gold’ and the melancholy ‘Lay Down In Sorrow’. 

 

Unlike some acts performing the music Pharis and Jason strike as perfect balance between light and shade. Resisting the temptation to burrow deep into mountains of sorrow. This being where artists offer strained vocals and little in the way of solace.  

 

As for covers, there is a healthy bunch of ‘em. Some though classed as traditional they sound little different to the likes of Uncle Dave Macon’s ‘Hillbilly Blues’ (that has Jason sing a wonderful lead), Karl Davis and Harty Taylor’s ‘I’m Just Here To Get My Baby Out Of Jail’ or The Carter Family’s famed ‘Engine 143. It matters not one jot, when or where the songs hail (they own stand up to them too) the duo do them all justice and that is saying something. One tune ‘My Flowers, My Companions, And Me’ gains an instrumental, reprise and like with all the tracks it is first-class in both formats. On a release that never drags, dips in standard but one that does fly higher times than others —as on the wonderful, free-flowing ‘Where Is The Gamblin’ Man? Oh, by the way thought this is their first ‘duet’ album there’s a couple of projects they were heavily involved in already available.        

Maurice Hope

 

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May 2018

1
John Prine
67 pts.
The Tree of Forgiveness
Oh Boy Records
JJC,MB,SP,RM
2
Levi Parham
58 pts.
It's All Good
Continental Records
CRS,JB,TK
3
Jeb Barry and the Pawn Shop Saints
55 pts.
Texas, etc...
DollyRocker
HDB,CVL,DHO
4
Michael McDermott
54 pts.
Out From Under
Continental Song City
JDO,LK,BK
5
Sam Morrow
48 pts.
Concrete and Mud
Forty Below Records
MA,JBO,HB
6
Caleb Caudle
39 pts.
Crushed Coins
Cornelius Chapel Records
 
7
Western Centuries
36 pts.
Songs From The Deluge
Free Dirt Records
MF
8
Carter Sampson
34 pts.
Lucky
Continental Song City
 
9
Charley Crockett
30 pts.
Lonesome as a Shadow
Son of Davy/30 Tigers
 
10
Courtney Marie Andrews
28 pts.
May Your Kindness Remain
Loose Music
JV
11
Ed Romanoff
27 pts.
The Orphan King
Pinerock Records
 
 
Joan Baez
27 pts.
Whistle Down The Wind
Proper Records
HD
 
Pharis and Jason Romero
27 pts.
Sweet Old Religion
Lula Records
SZ,LM
14
Gretchen Peters
24 pts.
Dancing With The Beast
Proper Records
KG
 
Old Crow Medicine Show
24 pts.
Volunteer
Columbia Records
GF
 
Will Stewart
24 pts.
County Seat
Cornelius Chapel Records
 
17
Ben Reel
22 pts.
Land Of Escape
B REEL Records
GC,FC
 
Birds Of Chicago
22 pts.
Love In Wartime
Signature Sounds
 
 
Emily Herring
22 pts.
Gliding
Eight 30 Records
RST,RH
20
Jenny van West
21 pts.
Happiness To Burn
Independent
PJ,FS,JJ
 
Mary Gauthier
21 pts.
Rifles And Rosary Beads
In the Black Records
 
22
Sarah Shook & The Disarmers
20 pts.
Years
Bloodshot Records
FCE
23
David Starr
19 pts.
South And East
Independent
HM
24
Cold Tone Harvest
18 pts.
After You
Independent
 
25
Grant Peeples
17 pts.
Settling Scores vol. 2
Continental

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