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Daniel Romano

If the Only One Time Askin' – 2015 (New West)

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

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CDs by Daniel Romano

Daniel Romano does not look very happy on the cover of his latest. The Canadian looks forlorn, sadness oozing as he peers into the distance with a cigarette hanging from his mouth. No wonder Romano is sad as the lead-off honky tonkin' countrypolitan "I'm Gonna Teach You." With a full-fledged baritone, often reminiscent of Robbie Fulks and Charlie Rich (his hit making countrypolitan side), Romano indicates there's going to payback for the guy who took advantage of his girl. Here, as throughout, there's a lot of alcohol going down.

Things don't get much better on "Old Fires Die" where the marriage is growing cold: "There was a time we were lost in one another/And now we're lost in the part of letting go." Unlike the opening song, he's the one who gets "more happiness from a bottle."

Romano must have been going through a helluva bad time when he wrote these songs. "All the Way Under the Hill" is another broken relationship song, but "no more hurtin/or cryin'/Those days are gone," Romano proclaims with a pedal steel coming into play during the song. Someone his honest delivery belies the words.

Romano may exude sadness when he sings in his clear, clarion voice, and it sure helps that the material is well constructed. He takes a traditional approach to the songs. You're going to hear country beats, lots of fiddle and pedal steel (the title track, about trying to reform a prostitute) to create the mood. Romano, who did a fine job in self-producing, also made sure his vocals are rise above the depressing fray. Interestingly, Romano decided to segue one song into the next without a break.

These songs come from deep, dark places - no surprise given song titles like "There's a Hardship, "Learning to Do Without Me" and "If You Go Your Way (I'll Go Blind)," but Romano doesn't make heartache sound so bad after all. That's what country music is about, after all, no?