Ed Romanoff’s 2012 self-titled debut is a gritty masterwork of melancholic and atmospheric Americana. The album evokes the solo work of Mark Knopfler, the swampy mysticism of New Orleans, and the kind of redemption you find at the end of an introspective night with a good bottle of whiskey. “There is something compelling about why I’m doing this now,” Ed says thoughtfully. “There is truth in a good song, and when you pursue it, and write about something real, you find out something real and true about yourself. And the more you do it, the more it helps you heal, and it heals others in a similar way. It’s a crazy circle but it works.”
Ed’s eleven-track debut cuts a wide emotional swath, from the good-natured sorry-I-messed-up sentimentality of “I Must Have Done Something Right” to the brave vulnerability of “St. Vincent De Paul.” Ed wrote the latter when he made a pilgrimage with Americana artist Mary Gauthier to the orphanage where she had been left on the day she was born. They became good friends and Mary asked Ed to join her on the road as sideman, writing partner, and later in taking a DNA test, as she wanted to learn more about her biological past. In taking the test, Ed found out recently the father he grew up with was not his biological father. “Sometimes you write a song and sometimes it writes you back,” he says.
On St. Vincent de Paul Ed sings about the search for his father with weathered sincerity: “If we met on the street/Would I Know His Face?/And would he look into mine/And find there is a trace/Of a woman he loved once/A long time ago/Or would I pass him right by/And not even know it/A basket of rushes in a river of men.”
Ed’s voice is gentle yet haunting, while his guitar playing is economic and steeped in all stripes of Americana, from boozy blues to brothel jazz. The album is produced by Crit Harmon, esteemed for his work with Martin Sexton, Lori McKenna, and Mary Gauthier, and features backup vocals from Josh Ritter, Tift Merritt, Meg Hutchinson, and Mary. Mary and Ed uniquely cover the Harlan Howard song, “I Fall To Pieces,” that Patsy Cline made famous.
This accomplished first album has a moony ambience with elegiac lap steel, saloon violins, and a gentle hum of Wurlitzer organs. Its smoky haze and rustic production are delicately grounded by the grit and earthiness of Ed’s voice. 9 songs from this debut record have been recognized in international songwriting competitions prior to its release, including “Breakfast for One on the Fifth of July,” written with Mary Gauthier, which won for best lyrics at the 2011 International Songwriting Competition and the 2011 USA Songwriting Competition. It may have taken Ed a little over two years and two generations to write his album, but he’s perfectly on time. After all, they say it takes a lifetime to write your first record.
Ed Romanoff - Vocals, Guitar, Piano, Harmonica
Self-titled debut, Produced by Crit Harmon
Mixed by Matt Beaudoin at Q Division, Somerville, MA
Mastered by Adam Ayan at Gateway Music, Portland, ME
Artwork by Matthew Flemming @ blackt-shirt.com
Mary Gauthier: 'The Foundling' (Co-wrote Orphan King and performed on various tracks)
* Radio Play in the US, Australia and Europe
Single: "All In All"
* Aired on TV show "Love Monkey" on VH1
St. Vincent de Paul
Breakfast for One on the 5th Of July
When You're Dreamin'
Two Yellow Roses
I Must Have Done Something Right
New Year's Prayer
LA TIMES: "Music doesn't hit any harder than that."
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"'Mama kissed me one time and said goodbye / I still believe in love.' Music doesn't hit any harder ..."'Mama kissed me one time and said goodbye / I still believe in love.' Music doesn't hit any harder than that." (about Ed Romanoff's song with Mary Gauthier, "The Orphan King").
HARTFORD COURANT: "Simple... Sparse... Skillful."
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Gauthier was joined by fiddle player Tania Elizabeth, formerly of the Duhks, and guitarist and vocal...Gauthier was joined by fiddle player Tania Elizabeth, formerly of the Duhks, and guitarist and vocalist Ed Romanoff, who provided a simple and sparse accompaniment to Gauthier's lyric-driven songs.
Elizabeth's sinewy fiddle provided a soft edge to Gauthier's hushed vocal on "Mama Here, Mama Gone," a story about abandonment and loss, and Romanoff's guitar work skillfully accompanied Gauthier's own playing on the twangy "Blood is Blood."
The night was not all gloom and doom, as the trio donned bowler hats to sing the vaudevillian "Sideshow." While most of her material may be seen as downbeat, the pink-spectacled singer was warm and extremely funny throughout the evening.
The centerpiece of the evening was "March 11, 1962," a song that references Gauthier's birthday and documents her unsuccessful reconciliation with her mother. Romanoff's guitar provided a driving backbeat and Elizabeth's mournful fiddle filled the empty spaces over Gauthier's almost spoken delivery.
HUFFINGTON POST: "As soon as Ed Romanoff joined [Mary Gauthier] onstage, the bright sunshine appeared."
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"Also seemingly on cue, as soon as Gauthier's recent writing partner, Ed Romanoff, joined her onstag..."Also seemingly on cue, as soon as Gauthier's recent writing partner, Ed Romanoff, joined her onstage, the bright sunshine appeared."
1. Two Yellow Roses
2. Breakfast for One on the 5th of July
3. Lady Luck
5. New Year's Prayer
6. I Need You
7. Orphan King
8. I Fall to Pieces
There are no upcoming dates at this time.