Roman Rhodes and the Born Again Pagans serve visionary collage of folk and jazz on new album
(Published: November 27, 2011)
Only when folk music is spiced with exotic sounds from the rest of the world does it transcend its roots and become vital again. Such is the case with Roman Rhodes and the Born Again Pagans, a band that uses folk as the first stroke of a paintbrush to realize their collage of jazz, psychedelic, and world music. There's no point in classifying them; it's best to swim in the wild waves of their latest album The Emergent Sea and surf on the layers of visionary storytelling.
Rhodes' mood-spinning, dreamy voice is not typical of either folk nor jazz. In fact, it recalls the compelling baritone of alternative rockers such as the late David McComb of the Triffids and James Grant of Love and Money, especially on "Poseidon." Those acts are relatively obscure so it might be a case of shared influences with those singers, namely that of the Doors, whose raging blues the group recalls on "Grandma's Telecaster (The Good Old Days)." If Doors front man Jim Morrison were still alive today, this is the kind of music he'd probably be releasing instead of some kind of corporate schlock.
Brittle mandolin and swirling violins add stylish atmospherics to "Poseidon" which, like many of the tracks here have obvious references to the ocean. It's not really a concept album - it's hard to see an artist as jubilantly eclectic as Rhodes confining his creativity in such a way - but it is remarkably consistent in terms of craftsmanship. One of the most gripping songs on the record is "Umi/The Sea," wherein Rhodes combines English and Japanese lyrics with impressive authority. Spirited flute and crystalline acoustic guitars solidify the track's collision of East and West.
On the surface, Rhodes' work may recall the similarly sun-tanned acoustic pop of Jack Johnson; however, Rhodes is more adventurous and unpredictable, making listeners true believers of these Born Again Pagans.
More Information: http://www.romanrhodes.com/home.html