Daniel Romano’s “Finally Free” Stands at the Forefont of “Weird Country”

Reviews

Canadian multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter Daniel Romano’s beautiful new album, Finally Free (New West Records), arrives November 30. What Romano achieves with this album becomes all the more remarkable when one considers that he played nearly every instrument on the record and produced it himself. The record has a unified vision, a psychedelic folk take on country rhythms.

While All-music gave a favorable four-star review to Finally Free, they opted not to categorize as Alt-Country or Americana, as they did his previous couple of releases. Admitting that Romano “has always been a tough artist to pigeonhole,” they chose to list the album as Indie Rock and Indie Pop. I don’t entirely disagree.

In fairness, the tracks on Finally Free do not all consistently fall neatly within the bounds of any one genre. Some, like the folk-pop-psychedelia “Celestial Manis,” show no trace of Romano’s country influences. Others, like “All the Reaching Trims,” are reminiscent of the country-folk melodies of the Byrds–again, with strong psychedelic tones. To quote True Detective, “Time is a flat circle,” and Romano has, in some respects, rediscovered the psychedelic roots of country-rock.

I consider Romano part of a group of young musicians that I call “Weird Country.” These artists are taking alt-country and Americana to bold new places. They’re incorporating psychedelia, experimental music and electronica, field recordings, dream pop. I consider several excellent releases this year “weird country:” Odetta Hartman’s Old Rockhounds Never Die, Anna St. Louis’s If Only There Was a River,  Christian Kjellvander’s Wild Hxmans, and Buxton’s Stay Out Late.  To varying degrees, they all stretch the boundaries of “country,” are characterized by an essential weirdness, and they are all wonderful.  http://www.danielromanomusic.com/music/

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