Pharis and Jason Romero: Bet on Love

Bringing It All Back Home

Listening Post 280. They met at a fiddle jam in 2007 and married three months later; they live outside Horsefly, British Columbia, a village of 1,000 souls in the foothills of the Cariboo Mountains, where they build and sell banjos and raise their two children. Among the storybook details of their life together, the rarest is the music Pharis and Jason Romero make, a folk-country-bluegrass hybrid so fresh they might have picked and plucked it from their garden. Bet on Love, their fifth album and second of all original material, revolves around the search for home—where we’re from, or where and with whom we make it. It’s 11 tracks evoking long journeys, adventures, mistakes made, lessons learned, melancholy and connection; Pharis has a voice that dazzles and calms, Jason delivers gentle leads and harmonies, and their strings are in perfect sync. Song moods vary with the lyric and acoustic terrain: Rambling or soaring, yearning or transcending, and sometimes they seem to achieve all these effects at once. They set the album tone with Hometown Blues, a sparkling tribute to the push and pull of road and roots (video 1). We All Fall radiates nostalgia, loss and acceptance (video 2), while Kind Girl suggests you can make the round trip with innocence intact (video 3). Running through the album, but especially evident in the rhythm of Roll on My Friend (video 4), is a sense of intimacy, like resuming a paused conversation with old companions. End meets beginning in New Day, a hymn to homemaking that acknowledges the tears and mud it takes to make the sun rise (video 5). We’ve all been homeward bound but some haven’t arrived yet, and perhaps fear they never will. And though everyone navigates the risks and bluffs on their own path, Bet on Love stacks the odds in favor of hope. (Lula Records)

Pharis and Jason Romero: Bet on Love
Pharis Romero: Vocals, guitar
Jason Romero: Vocals, guitar, banjo

Guests:
Patrick Metzger: Bass
John Reischman: Mandolin

Note. Bet on Love has been nominated for six 2021 Canadian Folk Music Awards, the largest number for any single album. The nominations are in the categories of English Songwriter(s) of the Year, Ensemble of the Year, Traditional Album of the Year, Traditional Singer of the Year (Pharis), Producer of the Year (Marc Jenkins) and Vocal Group of the Year. Winners will be announced in a virtual ceremony over the weekend of April 9-10, 2021. The Romeros have won two previous Canadian Folk Music Awards and two Juno Awards (Canada’s Grammy equivalent).

 

Hometown Blues
Pharis Romero

Got a job up the road, swinging round a rainbow arc/Living out of tins that turned to fires of thanks at night
Underneath the stars I know there’s nowhere else I’d be/With these hometown blues

I found me in a southern town, wiring up the writing pools/All the boys are doing it so I guess I should too
I don’t swing that rainbow round my shoulder anymore/With these hometown blues

Mama says you go to school, read about a bigger world/How can I believe that it’s all there if I don’t go
How can I believe the world is full of lonely flowers/With these hometown blues

I’ll make it home before the snow, looking for a piece of bread/Knowing how I miss my dear mother and my dad
Catch the nine pm and watch the lights turn into stars/With these hometown blues

Hometown blues, got me moving/Hometown blues, I had to go
But I know you’ll keep calling/Every channel on my radio

Now I run a lonely bar and wonder who will keep me warm/I’m the only one who slides their drinks down the end
We all know who goes home and who won’t show for hours/With these hometown blues

 

We All Fall
Pharis and Jason Romero

In the fall of ’81, I was a dancer at the back of the hall
Plain black stockings, a bit of red rouge/Living on monthlies to cover my dues
Then in ’82, I was a singer and I met you
A simple man who sat on the line/Don’t take too much, a little is fine

We all go to town to get a little higher, oh
We all fall from time to time/I know I’m not alone

We parted, years have turned/I’ve seen no reason to lose what I learned
Troubles come and they may go/Waiting for someone to carry me home
I don’t remember when you left/I was lying in bed still dressed
You bought me a coat, I bought me a crown/Queen of the world for a minute now

We all go to town to get a little higher, oh
We all fall from time to time/I know I’m not alone

Now I’m lonesome for you dear/And I want to make up those hazy years
Maybe we’ll do that and maybe we won’t/Don’t you give up, I’m living on hope
Tomorrow I’ll be older than today/And all along I’ve thought I need to change
The only difference from back in ‘81/I love what I have and don’t mind what is gone

We all go to town to get a little higher, oh
We all fall from time to time/I know I’m not alone

 

Kind Girl
Pharis Romero

Don’t you call the kind girl, call her down/Call her down, call a kind girl down
Don’t you call the kind girl, call her down/I say, I say the time is now
I say the time is now

She woke from a dream and saw her sweet home town/Sweet home town, oh her sweet home town
She woke from a dream and saw her sweet home town/I say, I say the time is now
I say the time is now

She turned up her thumb and let her luck come round/Luck come round, oh her luck come round
She turned up her thumb and let her luck come round/I say, I say the time is now
I say the time is now

They called her crazy and they called her down/Called her down, oh they called her down
They called her crazy and they called her down/I say, I say the time is now
I say the time is now

She says I want to be lost and then I will be found/I will be found, oh I will be found
I want to be lost and then I will be found/I say, I say the time is now
I say the time is now

So don’t you call the kind girl, call her down/Call her down, call the kind girl down
Don’t you call the kind girl, call her down/I say, I say the time is now
I say the time is now

 

Roll on My Friend
Pharis and Jason Romero

The traveller does wonder how long he will walk/‘Til the bright morning sun shines on his feather bed
The gambler does wonder how long he will wait/For the perfect set of shapes and colours in his hand

And it’s roll on my friend/And it’s roll on my friend
I’ll return to you once more/When your wait is done

The lonely one does wonder how long he will wait/Will the celebration be this time for me and me alone
The good one does settle and feel right at home/Wherever they may see a way to give and give again

And it’s roll on my friend/And it’s roll on my friend
I’ll return to you once more/When your wait is done

 

New Day
Pharis and Jason Romero

Oh you won’t find your soul/Carry it across the sea
I’m building you a boat of gold/Filled with love and peace
I’ve a home in this old valley/Built of tears and mud
If you sailed up to me/You could bring me back some love

Oh won’t you cry a new day’s born
A new day today

One of us can be lonely, one of us can be sad/Two can build together and walk hand in hand
When I come to the end of my valley/Reach my final home
I hope you have been with me/And held my hand all along

Oh won’t you cry a new day’s born
A new day today

One of us can be lonely, one of us can be sad
You have seen the coming days/In the palm of your hand

Oh won’t you cry a new day’s born
A new day today

I can hear my voice a-singing across the valley
I can hear my voice a-singing across the hills

 

 


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