DANIEL ROMANO with STEVEN LAMBKE and TV FREAKS at the Mod Club (722 College), Wednesday (November 11), 8 pm. $25. rotate.com, soundscapesmusic.com, ticketmaster.ca.
On his fourth solo album in five years, Daniel Romano is still a sad dude searching for his next song.
Sure, sadness has always been prominent in country music, and on each new record by the Welland, Ontario, singer/songwriter, including If I’ve Only One Time Askin’ (New West), sorrow has become a bigger element.
“Self-inflicted pain is a human habit,” Romano tells NOW. “There are people all around us all the time who would rather be hurt and share it than move forward from it – myself included, of course. We’re a very weak race and we take comfort in sharing our downfalls and having people listen and relate to them.”
And so we get downtrodden tales. All The Way Under The Hill’s narrator is moving on from heartbreak but still spiteful enough to hope he’s left his ex with a “bad guilty chill.” And Romano’s never sounded more desperate than on Strange Faces, his voice reaching for the rafters in the waltzing chorus: “If I had a way to feel / The things that sit just out of reach / I would touch the strangest faces / till their not so strange to me.”
“There’s much more chance, considering the state of musical affairs these days, to legitimately be lonely than there ever was in the golden age,” Romano says. “All humanity can hope for is to jealously live in the shadows of a song.”
Eerily reminiscent of Waylon Jennings in the gut-wrenching, twangy acoustic tunes about one man with a broken heart and a bottle, Romano is about as far from new country as you can get. He’s quick to point out that most classic country singers didn’t write their own material – they were discovered because of their incredible ability to sing and deliver a song. Although he writes his, he says they aren’t necessarily autobiographical.
“My nature is not to write of personal experience,” he says. “It’s to create experiences of a personal nature.”
Romano hasn’t given into his dark side sonically, though. Strange Faces and the title track are as buoyant and full of life as anything he’s ever released, including 2011’s Polaris Prize-nominated album Sleep Beneath The Willow.
Throughout it all, Romano is still searching. For a better song perhaps? He’s said that recording is a four-day process for him and that the faster he can bring a song to life, the better he can keep perspective on what the song actually is, rather than what it’s trying to become without him.
“The things I do only interest me for a very short period of time,” he says, “and then seem to drift into some void I can’t relate to.”
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