In the zeitgeist of rock n roll prophecy, there is a tale of one who will bring it all back home again. Is Daniel Romano this man? Releasing phenomenal records at such a breakneck speed is overwhelming for even the most hardcore fans to keep pace with. Here is a brief rundown of Daniel Romano’s SIX releases during COVID-19 via Bandcamp. There’s a wide range of styles. Perhaps there’s only one or two that will pique your interest…or, maybe you’ll dig them all.
“Visions Of The Higher Dream” (released March 15, 2020)
One can wonder what the difference is between Daniel Romano, his Outfit or, Ancient Shapes? Well this album leans slightly closer to the singer-songwriter format than the more amped-up Outfit or Ancient Shapes. The songs are still full-bodied and overflowing with ambition and style. Perhaps what separates this album from his other recent works are the lyrics. The vocals sit on top of the music, unlike some of the Ancient Shapes tunes, which blur the music with the lines. This album lives in its own world. Sax-infused songs like “I Cannot Be More Lonely,” and the following “Girl In A Bath Full Of Tears,” remind me of Van Dyke Parks stuff with Phil Ochs; where baroque-pop meets psychedelic-rock meets confessional-singer-songwriter storytelling. Does that make sense? How about if Bob Dylan and The Band had helped The Beach Boys with “Surf’s Up?” No? Okay, let’s just say that fans of The Byrds’ “Sweetheart of the Rodeo” / ”Dr. Byrds and Mr. Hyde,” and the best Blitzen Trapper have to offer, will love this! ‘Cause it surpasses them all.
“Super Pollen” (released April 24, 2020)
Daniel does punky power pop! At approximately 17 minutes in total length, this collection is a short flex of his music and songwriting muscle. Great sounding guitar riffs abound over thumping drums and hollering vocals about growing up and a change of seasons. These songs make me wish I could crack open some ice cold cans of beer, with this blaring from the ghettoblaster at a backyard BBQ party with all my friends. This is too much fun to listen to alone. “Electricity’s Allergic To You,” is immediately my favorite track. The slightly slower tempo leaves room for variety to the vocal melody, and reminds me of the best Greg Kihn tunes (ie: The Break Up Song/they don’t write them like they used to). The comical “Laura Doesn’t Like Her Haircut,” is a close second. Damn – this is so good! This will definitely get more plays this summer.
“Content To Point The Way” (Daniel Romano’s Outfit – released April 29, 2020)
Daniel and co. return to his classic brand of country music. “If Words Can’t Express It” is a perfect opener. The passionate male/female vocal harmonies blend and float around the sorrowful lead slide guitar. Daniel and co. display their mastery of old school, organic sounding country over the course of these 10 tracks. “You’d Think I’d Think” is another tender and careful tune, which nearly brings me to tears. “Content To Point The Way” couldn’t be more effective in its straightforward approach.
“Okay, Wow” (Daniel Romano’s Outfit – released May 6, 2020)
A fast-paced live album of rocked out versions from Daniels’ recent albums. This is very similar to the show he played last year when I caught him and the group at a show in London, ON. Full of exhilarating, pumped up performances. I ordered the vinyl from Bandcamp the day it was released, and it has been in rotation on the turntable since. A great introduction for people not aware of Daniels’ current presentation of songs.
“Forever Love’s Fool (Feat. Danny Carey)” (Daniel Romano’s Outfit – released May 6, 2020)
Do you like sprawling, prog and synth-layered 22+ minute tracks, with beautiful vocal harmonies? How about one featuring Tool’s drummer, Danny Carey? No? It should at least intrigue you. If it doesn’t… then I have to ask… do you like rock music? This shape-shifting, kaleidoscope of a tune may just be a one-off done on a lark, but, maybe not. Regardless, it’s a freewheeling, beautiful ride.
“Do (What Could Have Been) – ‘Infidels’ by Bob Dylan & The Plugz” (Daniel Romano’s Outfit – released May 13, 2020)
With a quick, bare-bones rock n roll thing going, this album does exactly what it sets out to do. Amped up versions of Dylan’s 1984 return to form Infidels. Dylan famously performed the album’s songs live on ‘Letterman’ with a forthrightness and intensity not usually seen in Dylan’s TV promos. The rocking style betrayed the cleaner production found in the ‘official’ release of the tunes in the album… well Daniel and his Outfit play the album as IF the album had been done in this pumped up style. The fact that Daniel naturally has a Dylan-esque nasal voice certainly helps maintain the idea of this being what the Dylan album could (and in this reviewer’s opinion SHOULD) have sounded.
Never before has an artist released this amount of music of the highest caliber in such a short space of time. I am simply in awe! After all of this self-isolation and social distancing is said and done, and society returns to some sort of normal, I crave a full vinyl box set of all these releases.
Please Daniel, and You’ve Changed Records…
Take my money!!!
A bit of a Renaissance man, Steve Murphy is a singer-songwriter, author, and journalist based out of London, Ontario. An avid vinyl collector and audiophile, his personal collection of albums is wide ranging and in the thousands, including four released from his band Westminster Park.