Published May 17, 2018Pharis and Jason Romero have a vibe all their own. Somehow, their music manages to be uplifting and lively while lulling you into a dreamlike calm at the same time. The Juno Award-winning Horsefly, BC duo combine two of the sweetest voices imaginable with well-crafted songs and fine guitar and banjo playing — on their signature J. Romero Banjo Co. instruments. Their newest offering, Sweet Old Religion, has all the swing and sway, soaring harmony lines and musical subtlety they're known for.
From the feel of this recording, you'd never suspect what the Romeros have been through these past few years. While rebuilding their family home, they lost their banjo workshop and countless instruments to a fire, then rebuilt it all from the ground up with the support of their community. This collection of all original songs contains none of the weary, heavy-hearted darkness that sort of life-changing event might bring. Instead, it's brimming with love and optimism, as if losing so much brick-and-mortar stuff just made room for more of what mattered.
Recorded in their rebuilt workshop, the album includes Patrick Metzger on bass, occasional, subtle drums by engineer John Raham, John Reischman on mandolin, Josh Rabie on fiddle, and producer Marc Jenkins on pedal steel, but keeps the spotlight on the Romeros singing and playing. It's beautiful. (Independent)