Published Mar 04, 2015There's easiness in the way that Pharis and Jason Romero sing together, but it's elsewhere, too — it's in the fluid and breathy interplay between his banjo and her guitar playing. A Wanderer I'll Stay is the married couple's third duo album (they've also done a couple of collaborative albums before) and it feels like they are on a roll; a steady, slow, deeply traditionally grounded roll.
They recorded in the workshop of Jason's J. Romero Banjo Company in Horsefly, BC, where the Romeros brought in some guest musicians: Josh Rabie uses his fiddle effectively throughout the album (especially on "There's No Companion"), and Marc Jenkins' pedal steel is responsible for some spectacular moments (especially on Billy Mayhew's 1936 song "It's a Sin to Tell a Lie"). And yet, the focus remains squarely on Pharis and Jason, whose voices often work in close harmony.
It's a record on which you begin to get more variety in the mid-section: Pharis's drifty and yearning, lived-in sounding "Lonesome And I'm Going Back Home" segues into an unexpected, almost African-sounding instrumental penned by Jason ("Backstep Indi") before the duo moves on to one of their covers (of Charley Willis's "Goodbye Old Paint," with Jason singing lead).
Sometimes it's a little hard to discern the covers from the originals, as Pharis and Jason seem quite at home in bygone eras; album closer "The Dying Soldier" (by banjoist Buell Kazee) is a strong example. (Independent)