Daniel Romano | Buzz Meter
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.”