How about we break out of the new release holiday slump with a new Daniel Romano record! No? How about two!
Just six months after releasing what I would call his best album to date, Daniel Romano quietly dropped two new records on us last Thursday—both very different.
This stealthy release tactic is not unusual for Romano. Mosey’s release in 2016 coincided with his Ancient Shapes side project. This record barely scratched the surface of the new release channels I follow. The only mention of these two latest releases are in two consecutive Instagram posts on @danielromano_official.
HUMAN TOUCH is stripped down—mostly acoustic and bass guitars, tied together with Kay Berkel’s dissonant harmonies and peppered with the occasional blistering electric guitar interlude, horns, or accordion. Fans of his earlier recordings like Workin’ for the Music Man and Sleep Beneath the Willow will find a lot to like here. The tunes on this record exemplify some of the things I like best about Daniel Romano, namely the way he stitches together abstract, sorrowful ballads with unconventional changes.
“Blue Champagne” is a great example this. It’s equal parts familiar, complex and confusing. Its dream-like Americana vibe twists and turns around chord changes only those familiar with his catalog might be able to predict. The similar-feeling “Wabash Wreckingball” hints at being some sort of a modern, slow-burner take on the classic American tragedy ballad, and pays homage to the Dorsey Dixon classic, “Wreck on the Highway” at the end.
NERVELESS more or less picks up where Modern Pressure left off. His 60s psychedellic phase is in full flex here. The record is packed with catchy hooks and rich instrumentation. “Bord Enough To Love” bounces back and forth between verses of harpsichord and bongo drums, and a raging call and response arguement with himself across the stereo spectrum.
With each new record, I’m further impressed with the control Romano has over his voice. Despite his humble beginnings in the Canadian punk and indie rock scenes, he has never shied away from complex vocal techniques, constantly pushing his abilities into new territory.
Two of my favorite examples on this record are “Vacancy,” a schmaltzy, 50s style rock-n-roll ballad slowly builds to a nearly-chaotic falsetto, and “Maybe Tonight,” a sweet lullaby to himself that breaks up in a slightly phlegmy way that is neither gross nor amateur, but completely human and endearing.
Both albums clearly show that Daniel Romano is an unstoppable force of creativity, chops, and just plain good fucking taste.