(AP) -- Daniel Romano, "Finally Free" (New West Records)
Eclectic, prolific Canadian Daniel Romano's "Finally Free" connects directly to the cosmos, his acoustic-based compositions relying on gorgeous melodies and vocal harmonies to construct a set worthy of any Woodstock-era festival.
Taped on a four-track Tascam cassette recorder with a single microphone that never changed position while capturing the sounds of instruments around the room, the album echoes some of the primal density and adventurousness of Pete Townshend's solo demos combined in the creative process with what sound like fragments of stream of consciousness.
"Empty Husk" launches the album with an autoharp-like strum and lyrics with words like "enchantment," ''preservation" and "molecules" building up to intense strumming and drumming and chants of "no more darkness/no more." It returns to calm repetitions of "I am not afraid," a comforting reassurance of resilience.
"All the Reaching Trims" has Joni Mitchell/Nick Drake guitar parts, one of the aforementioned heavenly melodies and a heavy dose of metaphysical musings, just like "The Long Mirror of Time," which adds an organ to the soundscape.
"Have You Arrival" is a saga which may have been twice as effective a minute or two shorter than its six-plus. It sounds like a Big Star-Donovan collaboration, nearly compensating for the excess. The vocals on "Gleaming Sects of Aniram" reach a Robyn Hitchcock-like basso profundo, while the lyrics mention daffodils and "the naked lovers shedding spoiled skin." Naturally.
Lyrics and song titles from one composition are quoted on others, an oft-repeated literary device, and there's a Walt Whitmanesque spirit of transcendentalism throughout.
Romano's record bids farewell with "There's Beauty in the Vibrant Form," which taken as a statement could be the motto for the whole album and its charming trembles throughout.