Tuesday, March 10, 2015

MUSIC REVIEW OF THE DAY: PHARIS & JASON ROMERO - A WANDERER I'LL STAY



For those who find Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings too modern! Horsefly, B.C.'s pride and joy are immersed in the folk tradition, searching out rare old stuff, or writing vintage-styled work themselves. Then there's the whole banjo business, Jason being a master craftsman, Pharis handling the inlay and graphic design. You couldn't make this couple up if it weren't perfectly true.


This is their third album, and a little broader than the previous two, as they have welcomed some guests, adding a bit of fiddle, bass, drums and pedal steel to the proceedings, usually just their own guitar, banjo and harmonies. Fear not, it just adds a dimension really, and doesn't place them anywhere near the 21st century. Pharis certainly has the knack for old-time lyrics, plain-spoken and powerful: "It's a wicked world when you're all alone/It's a wicked and mean old place." Her lonesome and sad voice cuts across your heart in her timeless tales.


The older material leaves some room for fun. It's also more obscure than your usual covers, the Romeros digging a little deeper than most. It's a Sin to Tell a Lie they picked up from the Steve Martin movie Pennies From Heaven, although it's an old Fats Waller and Billie Holiday song, among others. Best is Cocaine Blues, credited to one Luke Jordan back in 1927, possibly the first-ever coke song, and a real toot, er, hoot. This makes me really uninterested in the new Mumfords album.

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