Long Gone Out West Blues as you can tell by the title is a mostly blues oriented CD by relatively unknown artists Pharis and Jason Romero. Unknown perhaps unless you are into old time banjos in which case you might be aware that they make some fabulous instruments. They also spend time playing banjo, guitar, resonator guitar and singing up a storm. This is their second album and it highlights Pharis's song writing as well as the couple's singing abilities. They also play some great backup and instrumental music.
The songs are Roots oriented having been evolved from old time music that the artists were familiar with. They have the feel of old time gems but are also fresh and have the right feel. The songs Sad Old Song, I Want to Be Lucky, The Little Things Are Hardest in the End and Come on Home are full of the down on luck emotion that often characterizes blues songs. Pharis delivers them with a strong voice that is not sappy nor harsh. Jason fills in the harmony in a way that their voices intertwine in a pleasing way.
There are some traditional songs that have been added for measure some of which are bluesy, some old gospel. Jason shows his instrumental talents in his riffs between verses and in a couple banjo instrumentals. His vocal talents show in Wild Bill Jones and Waiting for the Evening Mail.
I liked the album so much that it has been played a lot before I took the time to write this review.
Looking at some specific songs:
I Want to be Lucky is the best of the best in Pharis's set of original songs. Reminiscing on a hard luck life with the desire to get lucky somewhere or other. Sad Old Song reflects the travelling singer's effect on people who may be concerned with their own problems. People are willing to listen to a lonely voice as it fills the room.
Jason's version of Wild Bill Jones tells the ballad of the gunfighter who guns down a rival suitor. The banjo accompaniment sings along with the words. His instrumental Sally Goodin is quite a contrast with the more aggressive bluegrass versions available but this one is relaxing and intricate.
The last cut Across the Bridge is a wonderful gospel song from the 50's and appropriately ends a set of mostly lonesome songs—there is always hope.
From information on the internet, these folks live out in the wilds of Western Canada and make instruments by day and songs by night. They are the embodiment of music. You owe it to yourself to partake of the album, Long Gone Out West Blues.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
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