Canadian Couple Release 2nd CD to Great Acclaim

Image634996428829313812Following on the heels of their first album A Passing Glimpse—which just won the Canadian Folk Music Award for "New/Emerging Artist of the Year"—Pharis & Jason Romero’s newest album, Long Gone Out West Blues, continues to raise the bar on great acoustic music.

At this point, with the release of their stunning sophomore album, Long Gone Out West Blues, it’s inevitable that Canadian roots duo Pharis & Jason will be compared to Gillian Welch & David Rawlings.

This is because the Romeros write songs that are both dicult to tell from the traditional sources that inspired them AND sound impossibly fresh and new. Pharis & Jason’s songs contain the element of transcendence. It’s the effortless moment of flight when a bird takes wing, or the zen precision of a master archer placing an arrow, or the soft wooden curve of a chair turned by the hand of a true craftsman. It’s the mark of artists who’ve mastered their craft to such a degree that they’re able to move the traditions to a new state. That’s why you’ll recognize every song on Pharis & Jason Romero’s new album, even the songs they’ve written themselves or sourced from rare field recordings. Because you’ll recognize the hand of the master in their music.

Pharis & Jason Romero make their lives in the deep wilds of British Columbia, working from their homestead outside the town of Horsefly. They are professional instrument makers, and Jason’s banjos are some of the best in the world. Image634996433532622826They work together every day in their workshop, and retire to the house to make music in the evenings. It’s an idyllic lifestyle, and shows the closeness between this husband and wife duo that is echoed in their music.

On Long Gone Out West Blues, their voices meld as eeffortlessly as their instruments, intertwining on an instinctual level. Their instruments intertwine as well, as both are masterful guitarists in the vein of Norman Blake. Instrumentally, Jason Romero presents some of his best work on this record, drawing deep beauty out of the wordless subtlety of his playing. His sublimely beautiful banjo leads o two instrumental sets, and his finger-picked guitar work, intended to sound more like flat picking, sparkles along the strings.

Spending so much time immersed in American folk traditions, both Pharis & Jason Romero have a wealth of knowledge to draw from in choosing the songs on their new album. The cold- blooded hymn “It Just Suits Me” is taken from a field recording of Georgia Sea Island singers, vintage country song “Truck Driver’s Blues” came from a radio broadcast from the 40s, and “Waiting for the Evening Mail” is from a 78 of old-time singer Riley Puckett.

But the real focus of the album should be on their original songs, written by Pharis Romero. Pharis has always been a powerful songwriter, and she’s come into her own with this record. “Sad Old Song,” has lovely verses speaking to the life of traveling musicians struggling to make their voices heard, the heart-rending ballad “I Want to Be Lucky” is a weary hard-luck story, and “Come On Home” is a gentle, soothing balm of hope for those looking for home after a hard day. What’s remarkable about Pharis’ songs are how they’re able to sound like traditional songs while still communicating something new. It’s hard to tell “Lonely Home Blues” from an old 78rpm country blues song, and “The Little Things Are Hardest in the End” could easily be a vintage country hit.

You get the same feeling listening to Pharis & Jason Romero that you do looking at an old photograph. Their music touches something deeper than the music of our present day. It taps into something larger than ourselves. Their music reminds us of where we came from and points the way to where American folk music is going today.

Jason’s Banjo Company

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