New West Records
You don’t generally apply the description “tour de force” to what is essentially a country record, but then again, Daniel Romano isn’t your typical country artist. His latest, Mosey, exceeds even the dizzying heights of his previous work, such as 2015’s If I’ve Only One Time Askin’, which gave the Jason Isbell and Sturgill Simpson releases a run for album of the year nods. But on Mosey Romano reinvents what is possible while still rooted in country- albeit a sophisticated, glamourous version of 1960s country-pop (think Lee Hazlewood)- while hinting at the work of the dour genius, Scott Walker. Opening with “Valerie Leon”- which may well be about the Bond girl, or not- but in any event, with its swirling strings and Romano’s off-hand vocal delivery begins the album in a rush. Next up is “I Had to Hide Your Poem in a Song”, whose chorus reminds you, amazingly, of Thom Yorke circa The Bends while still being a country/blues song at its heart.
Romano had vocal help on “Toulouse” from Rachel McAdams, but for the bulk of the record it’s him alone- on everything from the drums to guitar, bass, organ, mellotron and who knows what else, and while it’s a twangy affair, it’s largely the twang of heartbreak, as on numbers such as “Hunger is a Dream You Die In”, the piano-driven “One Hundred Regrets Avenue” or the horn-enthused “Mr. E. Me”. “Maybe Remember Me” has a touch of British pop to it, with its rat-a-tat drum figure, and his version of the obscure Everly Brothers cut “The Collector” begins almost funereally before turning psychedelic, as if Romano was one of those bands on the Nuggets sets, with groovy production touches and a heavenly atmosphere.
Daniel Romano’s music isn’t for everyone, but for those of us who strive for something outside the middle of the road, Romano will find eager ears awaiting. Mosey is a masterpiece.