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Romantica Romantica
Album: Shadowlands
Label: Last Chance
Tracks: 14

Romantica's fourth album comes after an enforced hiatus due to a dispute with their former label, and is described as "a pure collaboration" between the members of the band. In the seven years since their last album, singer Ben Kyle has released a solo album and a collaboration with Carrie Rodriguez, so it is no wonder he feels that his return to Romatica with Shadowlands is "like a resurrection".

Let The Light Go Through You is the opening track, and sounds a little like a Ryan Adams song, with Kyle's gentle vocals and the sweeping melody providing the perfect start. It's a mellow introduction to an album of deeply reflective music, full of heart and soul. The likes of Harder To Hear achieve a real poignancy, complaining of the gratuitous noise of modern society that just gets in the way all the time.

There are some more upbeat tracks as well, with a country feel to the likes of Lonely Star and Blue Heart that leave you unconsciously nodding along to the beat. There is also a honky tonk tribute to Gram Parsons with Cecil Ingram Conor, which is joyful in its execution. Shandy Bass closes out the album, and is a nostalgic beauty, of a cycle to the sweetshop for bon bons and a can of Shandy Bass.

Clearly their slightly unorthodox approach to recording the album has worked. They converted a disused barn in the wilds of Southwestern Minnesota into a recording studio, deciding each morning which songs to take on. It's clear that this isn't just the Ben Kyle show, and that the entire band is performing at the top of their game. The Pedal Steel Guitar playing of Aaron Fabbrini is a particular delight.

A subtle balance of country, folk, blues and soul, this is a stunning album at times, and a glorious reunion that is just begging to be built upon.

Adam Jenkins