An insightful, subtly witty, and prolific Canadian singer/songwriter whose music reflects a mix of Nashville's countrypolitan era, '60s psych rock, and a host of other eclectic influences, Daniel Romano earned widespread acclaim with the release of his 2011 album Sleep Beneath the Willows, which made the shortlist for the prestigious Polaris Music Prize. Signing with New West Records, he continued writing and releasing albums at a rapid pace, turning out additional highlights like 2015's If I've Only One Time Askin' and 2017's Modern Pressure. In 2020 he released a slew of albums via his own You've Changed Records, including How Ill Thy World Is Ordered.
Romano was born in Welland, a city in Southern Ontario, in 1985. His parents were folk musicians, while his grandparents were fans of vintage country, and he grew up with a taste for classic folk and country sounds; he also developed a proficiency on a number of instruments, including guitars, drums, pedal steel, and keyboards. While he was in high school, though, Daniel and his brother Ian Romano were bitten by the punk rock bug after hearing straight-edge pioneers Minor Threat, and the siblings formed the indie punk band Attack in Black. While Attack in Black developed a loyal following in their native Canada, and their second album, Marriage, earned the group an award as NXNE Favourite New Indie Record Release at the 2007 CASBY Awards, bad business deals made trouble for them, and they released their final album in 2009. (During Attack in Black's run, Romano also landed a side gig as drummer and multi-instrumentalist with City and Colour, a project led by Dallas Green of Alexisonfire.)
Frustrated with the music business, Romano channeled his emotions into new songs that reflected his country influences, and after forming You've Changed Records with Steve Lambke of the Constantines, he released 2009's Daniel, Fred & Julie, a collaborative session with fellow songwriters Julie Doiron and Frederick Squire. Romano used his experiences in Attack in Black as the basis for his first solo effort, 2010's Workin' for the Music Man, which Romano recorded in his own private studio, with the artist handling nearly all the instruments himself, a practice he would follow on most of his subsequent work. Romano's second country album, 2011's Sleep Beneath the Willow, received a longlist nomination for that year's Polaris Music Prize, awarded to the year's outstanding Canadian album regardless of genre or commercial success.
In 2013, Romano struck a deal with an American label, Normaltown Records, a subsidiary of New West Records devoted to up-and-coming independent artists, and Normaltown gave Romano his first U.S. solo release, Come Cry with Me. He was moved to the official New West Records roster for his next album, 2015's If I've Only One Time Askin'. For his second New West release, 2016's Mosey, Romano took a creative detour, adding a strong dose of '60s and '70s pop influences to his music and turning back the country accents. That same year saw the prolific Romano release the eponymous debut from his proto-punk/power pop alter ego, Ancient Shapes.
Drawing inspiration from artists like Lee Hazlewood, Leonard Cohen, Serge Gainsbourg, and Randy Newman, Romano headed to Finnsäs, Sweden, with longtime engineer Kenneth Roy Meehan to record the follow-up to Mosey. The resulting Modern Pressure was released in May 2017. With a seemingly bottomless well of material, Romano kicked off 2018 with the surprise digital-only release of two albums, Nerveless and Human Touch, returning in December of that year with yet another album, Finally Free, which he recorded using a minimalist four-track cassette setup. 2020's OK Wow was a collection of fan favorites recorded live in Scandinavia during a tour by Romano and his road band the Outfit. Later that year he issued the studio LP How Ill Thy World Is Ordered under the Daniel Romano's Outfit moniker. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi