Pharis and Jason Romero 'A Wanderer I’ll Stay' - Lula

This is the third album from the acclaimed duo who are seasoned and passionate vocalists as well as skilful players. On this album, which they co-produced with David Travers-Smith, the Canadian couple have added an extra element by bringing in bass, fiddle drums and pedal steel to augment their own playing. For those who like to know these things they include in the accompanying booklet the age of the main instruments as well as the banjo tunings. They also designed the good looking package, something that would put many a major label offering to shame.

But it’s the music that will draw many in and that is striking and memorable. It moves from the basic duo on New Lonesome Blues to There’s No Companion where the bass, fiddle and steel add additional flavours that show the breadth of their influences and capabilities - all topped by their sublime vocals. The majority of the songs are self written with a couple of more well known favourites like the western ballad Goodbye Old Paint. Billy Mayhew’s It’s a Sin to Tell a Lie is another that many will recognise. It was first heard by Jason in the film Pennies from Heaven and here is based on a version by Riley Puckett from 1940 that, again, effectively uses the steel guitar to add to the overall feel .

Pharis takes the lead on Poor Boy and shows what a clear and effective instrument her voice is on it’s own. When joined by Jason they emphasise the talent and skill they have invested in their musical journey. Their take on the often recorded Cocaine Blues is true to it’s 20s roots. Jason’s subtle banjo picking on his own Old September shows a delicate touch that suits the title well. The final song is The Dying Soldier, a dark tale of the Civil War whose title pretty much sums up the context, that of a mortally wounded soldier lying on the battlefield and wanting to be remembered to his family. It closes an album that is a testament to the duo’s accomplishments and fresh sounding approach to the music of another era, while adding much that is true to themselves.