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Hear It First: Pharis & Jason Romero - Long Gone Out West Blues

by Kim Ruehl

Let’s just get the Gillian Welch & Dave Rawlings comparison out of the way.

Good, now we can listen more deeply. After all, Pharis & Jason Romero are artists unto themselves – instrument makers, songwriters, pickers extraordinaire. These two clearly have as much adoration and natural talent for the traditions of American folk music as they do for the intrinsic musicality of their two voices.

Fresh from a win at the Canadian Folk Music Awards (they won New/Emerging Artist of the Year), they’ve got a sophomore album ready (Long Gone Out West Blues), which wanders deeper into their craft. Like a path through the woods, you think you know where you’re headed until you to hear the running water. Then come the lonely songs.

There can be a desperation in singing lonely songs – something quiet, sad, and seething. But, when the Romeros sing, there’s more of a letting go. You’re not peering into the mind of a songwriter; you’re witnessing the release of some long-clenched story or emotion. Though these are all beautifully composed, well-considered songs, there’s a sense that the music is coming more from the spur of the moment – the newness of the emotion – than from the channeling spirit you might witness with Welch & Rawlings. For example, when Pharis comes in on “Wild Bill Jones,” it’s like she was listening to this confession then joined in out of urgent solidarity.

Besides, as the album progresses, the influence of Joni Mitchell surfaces on “The Little Things Are Hardest in the End” – possibly the album’s hardest hitting tune – followed by hints of Dylan and Baez, and other more elusive influences. A spirit emerges, clearly plucked from deep within obscure field recordings. From Pharis’ thoughtful, creative originals to classics like “Sally Goodin”, you might be hard pressed to determine what’s old and what’s new.

This is music made on a timeless continuum, where yesterday’s troubles contribute to today’s lonesome songs. Listen in, and see where it takes you.

Click HERE to order the 'Long Gone Way Out West Blues.' 


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Where's the player? I'm logged into my account and I've clicked the Click HERE to Listen three times and refreshed the page, but the music doesn't appear to be where it should.

Posted by Morgan on February 12, 2013

If they were playing in my kitchen there'd be a hole in the floor from non-stop toe-tappin'! They are the real deal.

Posted by John on the sunshine coast on February 10, 2013

keeps reminding me of interesting music from earlier e.g. david bromberg. everytime i think i might be losing interest (and this happens on first listenings) a fantastic guitar break sucks me back in. That just suits me!

Posted by pj on February 09, 2013

Great music & beautiful cover. Thanks...

Posted by Gerald on February 09, 2013

why the comaprison at all to welch and rawlings. they're just a couple of hollywood show biz types if you ask me. phony as a three dollar bill. oops, did i say something wrong?

Posted by don strandberg on February 08, 2013

Excellent - stripped to the bone, and the bones are strong!

Posted by Charles Nolan - Philadelphia on February 08, 2013

Memories of Ian & Sylvia came flood in. Great, just simply great picking too.

Posted by Stitch on February 08, 2013

Wonderful music. Loved the sound of Pharis's voice ever since the first "Outlaw Social" album. This collection of true folk music plumbs so many levels and really answers the questions of why this kind of music was written to begin with.

Posted by Jay Gottlieb on February 08, 2013

Love this, it's beautiful.

Posted by darel on February 06, 2013

Beautiful - thanks!

Posted by Jeff on February 05, 2013

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