Daniel Ro­mano | Buzz Me­ter

Exclaim! - - TABLE OF CONTENTS - By Laura Stan­ley

FI­NALLY FREE, DANIEL RO­MANO’S EIGHTH LP IN EIGHT YEARS, is the re­sult of an un­ex­pected surge of cre­ativ­ity. While driv­ing through the Prairies, the songs came to Ro­mano all at once. He can’t re­mem­ber many de­tails, but he de­scribes the mo­ment as “very lib­er­at­ing” and guesses that the spon­ta­neous pre­sen­ta­tion of his al­bum can be chalked up to “a com­bi­na­tion of per­fect cir­cum­stances in some way or an­other.”

The al­bum is a wan­der­ing psych-folk record that feels en­cour­ag­ing in these dispir­it­ing times. On “Be­tween the Blades of Grass,” one of the al­bum’s bright­est tracks, Ro­mano sings of be­ing “lib­er­ated in the lan­guage of love.” To­ward the lat­ter half of al­bum opener “Empty Husk,” Ro­mano shat­ters the gen­tle pace of the track to let light in and en­er­get­i­cally pro­claims: “No more dark­ness, no more!”

Although Ro­mano ini­tially felt ap­pre­hen­sive about putting his words to mu­sic be­cause of the unique way that the songs emerged, he found com­fort in rou­tine. For ev­ery record, Ro­mano sets guide­lines — this time he was com­mit­ted to record­ing on a four-track Tas­cam cas­sette recorder — which help him fall into a steady pro­duc­tion mode.

“I found it re­ally daunt­ing un­til I started do­ing it,” Ro­mano says about record­ing Fi­nally Free. “I quickly re­al­ized that I had to ap­proach it in the same way that the words came. I had to try to make it as lib­er­ated as pos­si­ble. Most of the songs are the first passes of play­ing them.

“I like to [set lim­i­ta­tions] be­cause it’s so easy to get all Beach Boys real fast,” adds Ro­mano. “So I al­ways try to avoid that by giv­ing my­self a very strict and mil­i­tant set of rules that I ran­domly de­cide on be­fore I start mak­ing a record. It ac­tu­ally made it eas­ier, be­cause the record was be­ing mixed as it was be­ing recorded. That in­stant com­mit­ment was great and so much fun.”

Along­side ex­press­ing op­ti­mism in Fi­nally Free, Ro­mano says that the record is try­ing to “val­i­date mu­sic as an im­por­tant thing for peo­ple in a time when mu­sic is as de­val­ued as it’s ever been.” He also praises the com­mu­nal- ism of mu­sic and hopes that what lis­ten­ers take from Fi­nally Free varies.

“That’s what I like about songs — dif­fer­ent peo­ple can take com­pletely dif­fer­ent things out of some­thing that may seem like it’s re­ally ob­vi­ous or not. I think that makes it maybe more in­ter­est­ing. Or at least it makes it more in­ter­est­ing to me.”

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