Monday, November 28, 2011

AWARE reviewed by Mark Thompson

Trent Romens
New Folk Records
10 tracks

The debut recording from this eighteen year old from the Twin Cities quickly establishes that Trent Romens is a compelling vocalist and songwriter who also is a skillful guitarist. At times, it is hard to believe that Romens has only been playing guitar for seven years, His music displays a maturity typically found in more experienced musicians.

On his covers of two classic songs, Romens shows that he has absorbed plenty of lessons from the blues tradition. His blazing slide guitar work invigorates “Going Down Slow”. He switches to acoustic slide on “Key to the Highway”, his aching vocal capturing the longing in the lyrics.

The rest of the playlist is filled with original tunes. The brief “Material Blues” is a haunting number with strong backing vocals from Cate Fierro and Shalo Lee. The crunching rhythm on “Right Back Where I Started” provides the springboard for more high-energy slide work from the leader.

The rest of the tracks contain some blues influences but are predominately rock tunes.  “With You” features Toby Marshall on the Hammond organ and Allman-esque guitar work from Romens.  The rhythm section of John Wright on bass and Jordan Carlson on drums navigate the shifting tempos on “Stimulate Me” while Romens some arena-rock guitar licks. The gentle, lilting rhythm on “Hey Now” closes the disc with Romens contemplating the future of mankind.

There are plenty of hotshot guitar players out there looking to break out to wider audience. Trent Romens provides some evidence that he may possess talent and skill that could lift him above the crowd. It will be interesting to see how his career develops as he straddles that spot where rock and blues music intersect. In the mean time, there is enough blues content on this release to warrant a visit to Romens website to give his material a listen.

Reviewed by Mark Thompson

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