There are few times in writing about music where you can think of an artist as a genius. It’s just a rarity to find an act who does things their own way while still checking all of your internal boxes of what makes great music. About five years ago, members of the band Buxton turned me on to an artist named Daniel Romano. Romano, has never been one to follow any particular path that he seemed to share with anyone outside of his band. The fact that Romano had a couple of years where he released multiple albums under different projects, or the fact that he changed direction and sounds as if nothing was different all speak volumes to his artistry and mystique. On his new live album OKAY WOW, Daniel Romano and his band The Outfit give you his music in a new way, and on many tracks, with a new sound.
What’s immediately noticeable for any fan of Romano’s work is how seamless this album is. Because a lot of his material has been recorded live in the studio, the sound is still as present yet in this case, in front of an audience. While he’s altered the songs a bit for the live set, the magic is still there. With opening track “Empty Husk” from Finally Free, some of the song has changed but you don’t mind it. In such cases the pacing or even arrangements sound better here. This particular track makes it easier to hear the emotion in the vocals over how the original sounded. The band is on fire whether it be here or throughout the rest of the release. The way they play off of one another on “Toulouse,” the energy between the riffs on “Roya” and the routes they take to make songs more interesting like on “The Long Mirror of Time.”
Where Romano and The Outfit really shine is breathing new life in some of his older tracks. A great example comes on “Hunger Is A Dream You Die In,” where the more rock delivery here brings the energetic moments to life in a whole new regard. Much more high powered than the version on Mosey, the band is firing on all cylinders here and you can feel it. The same goes for “Strange Faces” off of If I’ve Only One Time Askin’ where they take a country song and add rock tone to give it a whole new life. However the biggest gem of the recording comes on “Modern Pressure” where the group takes everything in a speedier direction and delivers the song in an almost completely new way while you still know what track it is. It’s masterful and a great way to engage people in your music if you can keep it fresh. Daniel Romano’s Outfit does just that, and at times you feel like you’re hearing some songs for the first time.
OKAY WOW is available to preorder on a limited edition vinyl pressing directly from You’ve Changed Records ahead of its March 27 release. The album will also be available to purchase in all digital outlets or to stream on all streaming sites.
Image Credits: Photo by Spencer Burton.