Album Review | Lula Records | Review by Allan Wilkinson
There might be several contributing factors as to why Pharis and Jason Romero make such good music together. Could it be their telepathic communication skills, both as singers and as musicians or maybe just their choice of instruments and material? Could it have have something to do with their very specific location, namely their banjo shop just outside Horsefly, British Colombia, which appears to be a conducive place to write and make music as well as flogging banjos. The songs on this, their latest album release, Bet On Love, is a combination of all these factors.
Completely self-penned, each of the eleven songs are delivered through informed playing and empathetic harmonies, captured with instinctive sensitivity by producer Marc Jenkins. If the cover design shows two human bodies connected at the neck by each end of a single rainbow, this is precisely how the songs feel, that is, very much connected, which is further emphasised by the ‘rainbow arc’ mentioned in the opening line of the opening song, the bluegrass-infused “Hometown Blues”. There’s something immediately attractive about “New Day”, which just might have something to do with Patrick Metzger’s simple but effective bass line, it’s quirkiness taking the song to unexpected places. It’s the longest song on the album yet seems all too short. The songs are often of a personal nature, in some cases focusing on the passing years, or ‘blurring’ years, “Right in the Garden” being a case in point, “We All Fall” another. There’s some soul searching going on in these songs and just a little heartbreak, notably “World Stops Turning”, which closes the album on a slightly less than optimistic note, which would perhaps have benefited if it had changed places with the lilting “Kind Girl”, which in turn features some tasty mandolin runs courtesy of John Reischman. A really lovely album.
Choice Track: Hometown Blues (NSV 502)