Trent Romens

Trent Romens
Aware

New Folk Records

By Lady K
December 2011

Trent Romens is a blues newcomer, out of Minnesota. No, he really is ‘new.’ He’s a teenager, who loves the blues! Lady K is pretty sure that no 19-year old ‘kid’ should be able to play electric-guitar blues the way that Trent Romens already does. He’s very talented – and it’s not just ‘electric’ guitar blues, but acoustic, and slide; this young man was obviously born holding a guitar-pick.

First off, about Aware; the CD contains 10 tracks, with 8 original tunes (yes, Trent also writes music and lyrics), with 2 covers which will be familiar to blues lovers – St. Louis Jimmy’s “Going Down Slow” and Big Bill Broonzy’s “Key to the Highway.” Trent is backed up by an impressive group of musicians, including John Wright (bass, and the co-producer); Toby Marshall on Hammond B-3; Jordan Carlson on drums and Tony Paul on percussion; and backup vocalists Cate Fierro and Shalo Lee.

There’s a lot to like on Aware: “Material Blues” is a short blues-stomp, with background vocals giving it a kind of gospel sound which preach that longing for material goodies will get ya nowhere. “Fairy Tale” is a slow bluesy tune, with lyrics that warn “Hold on to your soul, don’t you ever let go. Life is an open page waiting to be filled; sometimes you go where you don’t want to go in this Fairy Tale.” There’s a lengthy instrumental end to this tune, led by Trent’s insane guitar; it builds and builds to a climax that then ends in a whisper of that same guitar - very impressive.

“With You” is a slow love song; during vocal breaks, the guitar sings the more plaintive love song; it speaks well for the singer and grabs at one’s heart. “Love’s Lost Cause” has about two very impressive instrumental minutes at the end, which makes it one of Lady K’s favorite tracks.

Aware, while showcasing a huge guitar talent, good original music, and nice lyrics, also saddened Lady K because Trent Romens’ vocal talents left much to be desired. Nearly every song was performed in a kind of monotone, sing-speak style that was more disappointing because the singer was playing such great guitar. I wondered if maybe he was trying to do too much, between writing music and lyrics and playing lead guitar. The good news is that on one track, the cover of “Key to the Highway.” Trent actually, really sang. This was Lady K’s favorite track on this CD, because it showed that Romens really CAN sing, and understands vocal inflection; which means that there’s hope for better CDs, when he finds his vocal-style.

In the meantime, really good blues guitar, Trent Romens!!!

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