Erik Kase Romero – ‘how to be still & still be here’

how to be still & still be here is the full-length debut from New Jersey native Erik Kase Romero. An eclectic range of styles — from the heartfelt folk of “still” to the country-rock ardency of “selling it” — compels alongside moving themes of challenging oneself and unpacking personal experiences, in a quest for a greater understanding and embrace of the “lessons” to be learned throughout life.

“lessons” is an apt, moving opener. “I’m not from around here,” the vocals remark, referring to compounding damages into the piano-laden “’cause everything I got is crying out,” emotion. The twangy guitars and subtle doses of piano swell gorgeously into the “that’s the lesson that it costs,” punctuation — engrossing in its depiction of cause-and-effect emotional turbulence. The subsequent “susquehanna” embraces the piano more upfront alongside Romero’s poetical lyrical prowess, asking “how’s it supposed to feel to learn a lesson?” and furthering the opening track’s thematic learning embrace. The album proves poignant in its portrayal of childhood memories and how personal experiences mold one’s perceptive emotional tendencies.

“The song started out as an exploration of very strong memories I have from my early childhood,” Romero says of “susquehanna.” “It’s an attempt to unpack how those experiences have molded who I am and how they are intertwined for better or for worse with how I engage the world.” Another album single, “still” is also riveting in its elegant folk guitars and themes of self-discovery. “A lifetime with no cure, scattered cells and DNA are just the same as yours,” an outpouring culminates in a powerful, anthemic vigor. A desire to be present and “still be here,” sends chills alongside twangy guitar affections to close this gorgeous track out.

“honest” is particularly impressive in its tonal range, from piano-set portrayals of personal struggles to a “I left New Jersey again,” catharsis as percussion and guitars swirl. Shades of Elliott Smith are apparent in the emotive folk stylings. how to be still & still be here compels with a breadth of striking songwriting, conjuring intimate displays of personal introspection and life lessons alongside swelling folk productions.

Mike Mineo

I'm the founder/editor of Obscure Sound, which was formed in 2006. Previously, I wrote for PopMatters and Stylus Magazine.

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