Black Music Matters Festival

Dex Romweber Duo

Images 13 – 2014 (Bloodshot)

Reviewed by Lee Zimmerman

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CDs by Dex Romweber Duo

Dex Romweber has carved an entire career out of mining archival influences, a mash up of surf, country, rockabilly and R&B circa rock 'n' roll's first golden era. While there are others who have adopted a similar style, Romweber, once with Flat Duo Jets, never falls back on parody. Rather, he and his sister Sara - who backs up her multi-tasking brother on drums and percussion - show a single-minded determination that draws from the same musical well as those early predecessors.

Still, anyone cynical enough to dismiss the Duo merely as mimics will find "Images 13" offering plenty of fodder for them to chew on, especially when it comes to the cantankerous croon Romweber puts forward on the hell-bent "Roll On," the pleading "Baby I Know What It's Like To Be A Alone" and a somewhat sobering "I Don't Want To Listen." However, when he abandons the patent posturing and opts instead for instrumental offerings like the surf-sounding "Blackout!" and the reverb-drenched rumble "Prelude In G Minor," it's also clear that he's mostly aiming for authenticity.

On the other hand, if familiarity does breed contempt, it's likely all will be assuaged by the inclusion of the sole cover, a take on The Who's relatively obscure "So Sad About Us." Notably, it stands apart from the rest of set thanks to its infusion of classic mod angst and anxiety. Romweber makes no effort to vary from the original template, and whether it's the song or the spirit that resonates most emphatically, it's of little consequence. It won't be Anglophiles alone who cheer its inclusion.

Those that fancy a retro regimen like Romweber's will obviously enjoy "Images 13" the most, although that may limit any kind of broader embrace. Nevertheless, anyone who admires genuinely earnest intent ought to find it both solid and satisfying.