Not quite country, Americana, folk, songwriter or pop, Daniel Romano’s exquisite and expansive new album, If I’ve Only One Time Askin’ is pieces of each, but ultimately the work of a singular mind. Self-produced and largely self-performed in his hometown Welland, Ontario, a picturesque water town near Niagara, the album features Romano’s baritone croon and poetic hard luck storytelling set atop an expanded palette filled with sweeping strings, blasts of horn, stately piano, twangy pedal steel, an 808 drum machine and swaths of accordion.
Not a retro preservationist, nor a post-modern cowpunk, the songwriter embraces classicism and sadness in its extremes to create something beyond nostalgia. Rolling Stone described the album as “countrypolitan crooning, honky-tonk heartache and mid-century melodrama.”
If I’m Only One Time Askin’, is receiving its release on New West, making him the labelmate of such celebrated songwriters as Steve Earle, John Hiatt and alumni Kris Kristofferson and Warren Zevon. His previous record, Come Cry With Me was long-listed for Canada’s Polaris Music Prize, received a Juno Awards nomination for Roots & Traditional Solo Album Of The Year and garnered praise from hardcore traditionalists to tastemakers in the music world.
While references to marquee names like George Jones, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and Merle Haggard are apparent in Romano’s music, the obvious influences certainly don't demystify his talent. A young man with an old mind and some nice suits, he works with equal parts authenticity and creativity, and his musical world is rich with archetypes and archrivals, wry observations and earnest confessions. Romano, who got his start in punk bands and was a member of Attack in Black and City and Colour before taking his songcraft into waters populated by French pop, Lefty Frizzell, ‘80s country, Leonard Cohen’s grace and Bob Dylan’s shape-shifting, casts a vast net.