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Trent Romens - Aware

New Folk Records: NF 1426

10 Tracks 46:47

Here we have 19 years old Trent Romens, from Edina, Minnesota. He is an accomplished guitar player but IMHO, his voice is just a tad thin for most of the songs on this album, and which, I regret to say, is well suited to the genre of music suggested by the name of the record label. With one or two exceptions – principally the covers – Big Bill Broonzy/ Charlie Segar’s Key To The Highway and St Louis Jimmy’s Going Down Slow – there is little here to interest the blues fan.

Joined by John Wright (bass and co-producer), Tony Marshall (Hammond B-3), Jordan Carlson (drums), Tony Paul (percussion) and with Cate Fierro and Shalo Lee (backing vocals) the CD opens with a Romens original “Stimulate Me”, with a fine riff driven backing and occasional bursts of excellent guitar work but with a rather whiney, thin vocal. Material Blues follows with some nice slide work to open. It is a mid paced foot tapper but comes again with thin whiney vocals. Fairy Tales is a Beatle like pop song with a melody seemingly derived from Lennon and McCartney’s Norwegian Wood.

Of the two covers, Going Down Slow is a nicely arranged paean to the St Louis Jimmy original. It comes with some really nice guitar work in the opening choruses and the vocal here is miles better, with little tendency to the whiny stuff which precedes it. Seven and a half minutes of good quality music, which will without doubt, get some air play.

Key To The Highway starts with an opening drum beat reminding me of Muddy’s “She Moves Me”. The arrangement is sparse but it is nicely carried off, with some outstanding slide work in the instrumental choruses.

Trent’s own “Right Back Where I Started”, is an I-woke-up-this-morning blues with - unfortunately - the aforementioned rather thin voice…Shame, shame, shame as Jimmy Reed might have said.

Sorry Sherriff starts like a folk song and ends like a pop song and there are again shades of Lennon and McCartney both in the melody line and in the arrangement (including close harmony oohing from the backing singers) and similarly, With You; is a pop song with an oooh oooh backing and a guitar sound that reminds me of Brian May or the solo on the Commodores 1977 hit Easy (On A Sunday Morning) (so beautifully played by Thomas McClary).

The closer Hey Now, is the sound of Caribbean gospel music and comes with a rudimentary strummed guitar backing, with bongos and so on…but don’t think of Bob Marley, think Harry Belafonte.

Reviewer Ian McKenzie lives in England. He is the editor of Blues In The South (  a monthly flier providing news, reviews, a gig guide and all kinds of other good stuff, for people living and going to gigs along the south coast of England. Ian is also a blues performer (see and has two web-cast regular blues radio shows. One on www.phonic.FM in Exeter (Wednesdays: 1pm Eastern/ 12 noon Central), the second on KCOR – Kansas City Online Radio (on Fridays at 1pm Eastern/ 12 noon Central)

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