Album Review: Daniel Romano — Come Cry with Me
Okay, okay; so we all know country songs often tells sad tales about broken hearts, shattered love, missed opportunities, tears on our pillows, and the ache of the memory of the lover that got away. Tender pedal steel breaks imitate our the aching beauty of our forlorn hearts; jagged lead guitars remind us of our falling tears; the call and response of a duet reminds us of why we took the chance on love in the first place and why we regret our losses, whether we or our lover walked away.
In the proud tradition of George Jones, Hank Williams, Hank Snow, Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris, Canadian-born singer Daniel Romano delivers an album full of sad songs and tears-in-beer tales of irreparable loss. As if the very title didn’t let us in on the secret, Romano captures lonesome not only in his poignant-with-an-ironic-twist lyrics but also with his luscious arrangements that give a full nod to traditional country. Aaron Goldstein’s sonic steel, Natalie Walker’s soaring fiddle, and the heavenly harmonies of Julie Doiron, Misha Bower, Tamara Lindeman, and Dallas Good provide the rich background for Romano’s baritone vocals.
The song that’s getting the most airplay, “That’s the Very Moment,” is characteristic of many on the album. The singer wakes “with a full and happy heart/On another sunny day” he can’t wait to start; although he waits for the phone to ring to hear his lover’s voice, the call never comes. He decides to go to visit her, and sure enough she’s with another man. The singer’s longing and anticipation keep him going just before the moment he sees them, but in the moment he sees two silhouettes on the shade, he loses it all. As with any good shuffle, twin fiddles launch “That’s the Very Moment,” and toward the very end of the song, a chorus echoing the refrain reminds us of early George Jones songs.
On the opening track, “Middle Child,” the protagonist narrates the sad story—according to Romano, a true story of one of his friends—of a mother who gives up her middle child for adoption. The result? The narrator spends his life “living at the bottom of a bottle/spent my life on a bar stool all alone/never knowing why she sent me from my home.” At least the boy named Sue got to confront his deserter, but this middle child’s mother dies before he can find her to ask her why she gave him up. “Just between You and Me” recalls the duets of George and Tammy; this pair of lovers “healed each other close/in our true love sweet blindness,” but another man and another woman, a house, and a baby stand between them. The words “all that’s just between you and me” cuts nicely two ways: their love is their secret (between them), and these other obstacles stand between them and enduring unity.
“Chicken Bill,” a foot-stompin’ twang fest about a man named Bill, a chicken farmer who’s also “chicken” when it comes to loving his wife, and “When I was Abroad,” a pop-inflected waltz about wandering are the two missteps on the album, even as they showcase Romano’s crafty way with words.
At his best, Romano delivers traditional country music, even if his wink-and-a-nod lyrics reveal with earnest wit the irony that often lies beneath even the saddest stories of love and loss.
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