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RomanoCanadian Daniel Romano serves up a winning musical hand with the surprising release of not one but two new albums to kick off this new year. The records showcase two strong sides of his eclectic songwriting personality: country-folk and poprock.

NervelssNerveless starts out strong with it’s title track, the spare and roomy arrangement recalling a classic 1970s sound. From there it’s pretty hard to choose highlights – there are just so many great songs here! “Anyone’s Arms” hits all the poprock marks with its great pumping piano and hooky acoustic guitar – very 1970s power pop. “Good Will” and the “Devil’s Handshake” exhibit Romano’s great talent to embed no end of catchy elements to sweeten the basic song hooks. “I’ve Never Tried to Understand” has a lovely grand and sweeping pop song structure. “Bored Enough to Love” starts out like it’s almost going to launch into “I Got You Babe” before turning into a creative pastiche of different styles.

HTBy contrast, Human Touch is a more muted folk and country effort, the title perhaps a nod to some other guy’s paired album release from the early 1990s. The album kicks off with the very subtle built up on “Bring Me to the War.” “An Earthly Stretch of Colour” is a nice folky number with strong acoustic lead lines and slow burning hooks. “Don’t Fool Me” has that aching country ballad sound. But my favourite track is undoubtedly the understated title track, which sounds to me like a great lost 1970s country rock classic.

You might just be asking, what’s in the water up there in Canada? Supremely talented poprock songwriters/performers seem to be in abundance – guys who really know how to deploy a hook like Gregory Pepper, Jeremy Fisher and Daniel Romano –  they represent some of the very best the country has to offer. Get over to bandcamp or Romano’s website to check out these new releases in full.