Canadian singer-songwriter/ guitarist Ed Roman has a new album out titled Letters from High Latitudes. On this, his latest offering, Roman does more than sit back in the studio and sing lead vocals. He demonstrates his instrumental versatility as well by playing electric and acoustic bass, electric and acoustic guitar, drums and percussion, Hammond organ and Fender Rhodes and sitar. He is backed by several select guest artists including Mike Freedman (electric guitar), Dave Patel (drums) and Ansgar Schroer (harmonica).
The 13-track offering opens on “I Told You So.” (Yes, face it, we all enjoy saying it sometimes but Roman has even managed to exuberantly set it to music.) The second selection is “Coming My Way”. It’s an early fan favorite and features Rob Krause, Joanna Mackie and Kim Harcourt Stone on backing vocals and handclaps.
The next number in this musical mix and match of original songwriting is “World Keeps On Turning”. This is also a strong cut that says something about Roman’s songwriting skills. It is followed by “Roly’s Cottage” which is a standalone song and also an early favorite of online critics.
He moves into the jumpy “Jamaica” next which seems like the kind of song that would work well when touring and playing live. It’s perhaps too quickly followed by “Rosetta Stone” which is musically rooted in the past and features Tobias Tinker on flugelhorn.
It’s interesting that he would include a song named thus on an album that is obviously such a varied compilation of genres and personal connections. There are definite moments here where some translation of direction would be helpful and yet you know you’ll never figure out where he’s going or what he’s saying with the disc unless you keep following. Fortunately, that is quite easy to do.
“Electric Beauty” is a bit more intense as Roman continues with this musical slice of life CD. “In Your Eyes” is another noteworthy number. "Melancthon June Bug” is another timely track included here. Roman is obviously quite capable of taking listeners on a tuneful tour of his own lyrical landscape which sometimes leaves you focusing on his vocal stylings to determine his signature sound.
“Kids R Like Vegetables” is perhaps the audio odd man out here and yet maybe that’s the point. A shuffling, multi-genre mix might be just what some listeners need to understand that Roman is showing he has a lot of different interests in terms of musical composition.
By now “Better Day Blues” is almost expected here. Still, he makes this mellow melange of blues bits work. In fact, he keeps the blues coming on “Tinker” too once more demonstrating what he can do as a composer.
The closing cut is “I Found God.” While some would think this a gutsy move on some other artist’s album the mention of finding God doesn’t surprise anyone here on this album. Roman’s song list prior to this point has left listeners wondering where he is going anyway and the album is rife with his sense of humor so even a hardcore atheist wouldn’t flinch.
Check out Ed Roman’s Letters from High Latitudes. If you find yourself entertained then just remember “I Told You So.”
My name is Phoenix and . . . that’s the bottom line.