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Romano makes sad songs sound good

Great Scott, Boston, December 10, 2014

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

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Daniel Romano perhaps couldn't help himself in commanding the stage. After all, he was only up on the small stage accompanied by his backing band, The Trilliums, consisting of a fellow acoustic guitarist and a pedal steel player.

So, you knew this was not going to be an ear splitting gig unless the band was pounding it - and they did not.

Chances also were that the Canadian was not going to have to contest his vocal skills with the crowd either because with about 20 people on hand, that's just not much competition. Considering that Romano released his most recent disc, "Come Cry With Me," two years ago, it's not like he's plugging something hot off the press.

No worries though. Romano ended up channeling his softer, more ballad oriented side in a most engaging, free wheeling 50-minute opening set of traditional country music.

George Jones provided an obvious influence for Romano with Conway Twitty and Robbie Fulks in the mix as well. Romano's voice was fuller, more engaging than on the CD (in fact, he's going into the studio in a few weeks to cut an album live). Perhaps it was the lack of musical firepower - not a negative in this case - that afforded Romano that luxury.

Romano covered Jones' 1981 hit "If Drinkin' Don't Kill Me (Her Memory Will)" as a fan request, making the sad song a real weeper. At one point, Romano, displaying a sense of humor presumably mixed with tribute, imitated The Possum's vocal style and was pretty spot on. The crowd thought so also because they give him a big hand.

Romano was aided by the might of pedal player Aaron Goldstein, who was stellar for the long haul. Given that the songs were on the slower, depressingly dark side of life, Goldstein's low-key, but ever mournful instrumentation provided the perfect fit. Jenny Berkel often helped out on backing vocals and switched off from acoustic to tickle the ivories near the end, including the closing song of the night "A New Love (Can Be Found)."

Romano possibly could have picked up the pace with a few more uptempo songs, but when you authoritatively make sad songs sound really good, that's what country is all about.