Daniel Romano creates a diamond with Modern Pressure
By Zachary Stryffeler
When I listened to Modern Pressure, I was bombarded with jangly guitar, old-school rock organ and a killer horn section. Right from the first track, “Ugly Human Heart Pt. 1,” the album sounds like something from Bob Dylan’s early years. The album does a great job of capturing the mid ‘60s folk rock sound, much like Highway 61 Revisited or Blonde on Blonde. If Romano had added a screaming harmonica to these tracks, he would have become Bob Dylan. The second song, the title track “Modern Pressure,” is by far the greatest song on the album. As the song builds the whole way to the chorus, the anticipation is answered by a hard crashing and horn wailing release. Romano croons out the title line with great emotion and feel. The song is one of the best I’ve heard in a long time and the rest of the album doesn’t disappoint.
His next song, Roya, is a good slower track that has a killer bass if you listen hard. The sound is a lot like that of The Band, sounding like an upbeat version of “I Shall Be Released.” The guitar breaks through the drums with electrifying smooth fills. Robbie Robertson would be proud. He ends the song with a sitar fill that echoes George Harrison in the last years of The Beatles. “The Pride of Queens,” the next song on the album, changes up the pace with a building ballad that culminates in a more rock-sounding chorus. The lyrics on this track really add to Romano’s depth as a songwriter. It’s simply a great rock song, good enough to be good in the 1970s. “When I Learned Your Name” has a Tom Petty sound to it. It is one of the more forgettable songs of the album as the groove never really sets in. It is more of a background track to the album. He sticks it right in the middle, not good enough for the front, but definitely not something you want to finish on.
“Sucking the Old World Dry” has the best groove on the album by far. Once the first beat kicks off, there is a great balance between the instrumentation and Romano’s voice, creating a driving feel to a slow song. The track has a loud sound that has pure rock star power. “Ugly Human Heart Pt. 2” comes next and continues the opening track in a sublime manner. The drums push the fast-paced tempo that combines with another great lyrical display from Romano with great guitar work as well. The twangy fills add even more to the Highway 61 Revisited feel of the album. He incorporates a sitar into the next track, “Impossible Green,” and then launches into a great ballad entitled “Jennifer Castle” that again shows off his great songwriting and guitar work.
“I Tried to Hold the World” is a trippy, sitar-fueled experience that takes the listener on an acid trip through Romano’s mind. The instrumentation is very tight and will be a thrill for listeners who enjoyed “Within You, Without You.” Romano closes the album with “What’s To Become of the Meaning Of Love.” This is one of Romano’s best lyrical works as he weaves this tender message throughout the entire song. The lyrics and voice come straight from the heart and poignantly close the album, leaving the listener wanting more. If Daniel Romano keeps releasing more stuff like this, expect for him to make a bigger splash in the folk genre.