Reviewed by Harry Kaplan
I need to get over my prejudice that only Americans can make good country music. It couldn’t be farther from the truth as evidenced by Small Town Romance. These guys and gals are all the way over on the other side of the world in Melbourne, Australia and they can bring some American style country. It is as good as any made right here in America.
Small Town Romance doesn’t just play straight classic country. No, they mix in a healthy dose of Tex-Mex, Cajun, honky tonk, blues, and some folk for good measure. Interestingly enough, there are some striking similarities between Texas and Australia which probably explains a lot about why the music is so similar. Both places have a very hot arid climate and a lot of plains and dessert terrain. Enough for the geography lesson today and back to the music.
The band is fronted by Jim Arneman and Flora Smith. Arneman and Smith have stunning voices that blend with each other in perfect harmony. The lovely array of instruments such as keyboard, accordion, and pedal steel are the perfect background for Arneman and Smith to showcase their voices. Oh, there is also plenty of twang. Not sure if I mentioned that. I am a big fan of twang, by the way. Another impressive feature of this debut album is that all the original songs were written by Arneman and Smith. And all are very worth offerings. The 9 tracks combined offer a very well balanced and sonically pleasing release.
Halfway Up The Hume (Track 3) is probably my favorite song on the album so far. Granted, it is early and there are some other very worthy contenders. This is a beautiful ballad with some accordion and slip iron that could come from the planes of West Texas. The song is about lost love and leaving. The Hume is a highway in Australia and this song perfectly describes being on the road, alone, and pining for that love.
Coffee Grounds (Track 4) is a perfect follow-up to Halfway Up The Hume. It is another ballad about lost love. It describes in vivid detail the pain of a broken heart and how routine things, like cleaning a house tend to be neglected until that broken heart is mended. This will be in heavy rotation on my music device. Go give them a listen, they are worthy.