You wouldn't be faulted for thinking you'd stumbled upon a lost Gillian Welch and David Rawlings classic when listening to Pharis and Jason Romero's third album. Much like that Grammy-winning duo, the Horsefly, BC-based roots two-piece play bluegrassy Americana replete with reedy close harmonies, mournful melodies and sparse banjo/fiddle/acoustic guitar accompaniment.
Originals sit alongside vintage cuts like Buell Kazee's Civil War-era The Dying Soldier, Jess Milton's Goodbye Old Paint from 1942 and apparently the first song about cocaine, Cocaine Blues, which adds in some western swing. Without the liner notes, you'd be hard pressed to differentiate the new songs from the borrowed, which come in the album's second half. Their own songs, often led by Pharis, are sturdy and timeless, particularly the title track and There's No Companion, with its uplifting choruses.
Pharis and Jason have perfected an old-time sound, and despite sounding like a more banjo-heavy version of Welch/Rawlings, it's arresting and memorable.
Top track: A Wanderer I'll Stay