With your left eye closed, Daniel Romano seems a master synthesizer of sound and genre, a collage artist combining the corrupted influences of a century of so-called popular music forms, a chameleonic acrobat with a near-criminal authenticity. With the other, he’s revealed as a sincerely dedicated, passionately motivated songwriter aghast at the injustices of the world, a caring bandleader and generous collaborator, a spirited and shockingly playful artist tapped into a great, unyielding inspiration.
Let’s list the facts and see which ones hold: How Ill Thy World Is Ordered is the 9th full-length Daniel Romano album to be released in 2020, but the first to manifest in the physical mediums (LP/CD) since the career spanning, era-defining live album “Okay Wow” was released way back on March 27th. This one too, features the mighty skills of The Outfit, the tightest of tight-knit rock and roll bands: Julianna Riolino (vocals), David Nardi (guitar, vocals), Roddy Rossetti (bass), Ian Romano (drums), supplemented here by Mark Lalama (organ, piano), Briana Salmena (vocals), Victor Belcastro (sax) and Aaron Hutchinson (trumpet). The band assembled in studio in a perfectly tuned geometry to record these new songs following simple guidelines and simple rules: play the whole thing, in sequence, 3 takes or bust, with no overdubs; play “the sound of the feel of a snake bite”; play “a heist on horseback for fool’s gold”.
What unexpected anthems emerge! ‘A Rat Without A Tale’, ‘Green Eye Shade’, ‘First Yoke’, ‘A Secret Still To Be Betrayed’, ‘No More Disheartened By The Dawn’ shock with the full impact of their melodies, the harmonious combination of distinct human voices, the chromed accents of a perfectly arranged horn section, and more guitar playing, real, honest-to-the-core lead guitar playing than Daniel has previously committed to tape. The two-part ‘Joys Too Often Hollow’ and the beautiful closer ‘Amaretto and Coke’ show the band as adept at the swing and sway of softer sentiments, and as quickly tender as brave.
The always-darkened clubs and the strange and dirtied hovels that offered remote shelter to this particular breed of restless musicians on their long and winding journeys across the continents have darkened more. It’s a different age to ply a trade. Every day reveals new cracks in the artifice, new crimes from the oligarchs and politicians, new types of genocide and dispossession. New visions of contempt. O, how ill this world is ordered.
Yet music can lift the spirit, can, uniquely, restore dignity. To sound together, bringing hope:
No more disheartened by the dawn,
No more a sorrow will I see,
No more shall time go trembling on,
No more will I sing misery,
No more the future will I fear,
No more an ending coming near,
No more the shades forever drawn,
No more disheartened by the dawn.
Daniel Romano’s Outfit are dedicated to the heroic effort to bring truth and beauty to this world. Please lend thine ears!
LP: High quality stereo LP pressing in a beautiful Tip-on jacket
CD: How Ill on a bright and shiny disc. Play it in your old car forever
Digital: 1s and 0s in a very particular, encoded sequence. Ordered for your pleasure.