Pharis & Jason Romero | Bet On Love | (Independent)
3.5 out of 5
Pharis & Jason Romero live the idyllic life most of us only dream of. They make their home in a small town called Horsefly, British Columbia, where they raise their children and run a boutique banjo shop by day and mine an intimate musical mindset at night. A series of songs softly burnished by acoustic instrumentation, hushed harmonies and an evocative ambiance, it’s music that’s apt to be shared in the radiant glow of home and hearth.
Basking in serenity and serendipity, their mellow musings reflect those down-home designs. Opening track “Hometown Blues” sets the overall effect, a gentle banjo-based ramble that conveys an easy insular attitude, accompanied by a few melancholy musings. “New Day” offers the promise of new horizons, an optimism that’s mooted by quiet contemplation. Even the encouragement suggested by “Roll On My Friend” becomes a cautionary tale, one that harbors hope without indicating whether it’s fully fulfilled.
The stark settings convey an ache and emotion through the pair’s yearning vocals, allowing the intimacy to remain intact. It’s a sound embossed with a dewy-eyed perspective, one which evokes images of patchouli, patchwork and homemade quilts. Consider it a kind of musical comfort food, best savored in solitary circumstance.
Granted, there will be those who will find willowy ballads such as “A Bit Old School” and “Old Chatelaine” somewhat somber, perhaps even laborious to a certain degree. Yet, there’s no denying the joy that comes from hearing Pharis Romero’s expressive vocals soaring into high harmony over the steadfast strumming and the tasteful accompaniment provided by mandolin player John Reischman, bassist Patrick Metzger, and, of course, Jason Romero’s tempered tones, particularly on the closing track, “World Stops Turning.”
While Bet On Love maintains that sense of sobriety and solitude, it also speaks to the need for a calm constitution in the face of disruption and distraction. In that sense, Bet On Love is well worth any wager.