Romi Mayes Sweet Something Steady

Romi Mayes Sweet Something Steady
After years of kicking around with a variety of folk and bluegrass-oriented bands and recording partners, Winnipeg’s Romi Mayes has taken a major step towards finding her authentic voice. And the results are soulful and disarming. Produced by the acclaimed Texan producer/recording artist Gurf Morlix (Lucinda Williams, Mary Gauthier) Sweet Something Steady is a solid and fully-realised album — and certainly the first proper representation of Mayes’s music. The disc kicks off hard with the intense, smoky "Eight More Days,” a strikingly tinny drumbeat and heart-wrenching lyrics giving it a sense of longing and dogged determination. She ambles effortlessly from moody balladry to drowsy bluegrass and roadhouse raunch throughout the rest of the disc, but it is Mayes’s darker songwriting inclinations that are most engaging. Whatever the flavour, though, her infectious melodies will stick in your ear and warm you down to your belly like a shot of something sweet but strong. And holy smokes she’s got a mighty fine way with that guitar, y’all.

What was it like working with Gurf Morlix? Well, we’re still working together and I think that’s the best part: that we formed a relationship that has really helped mould my musical focus. He’s a really easy guy to work with. I was about ten-percent concerned about bringing in a producer because I’ve never really had anybody tell me what to do with my music before. And that’s the part that every songwriter holds sacred. But he just let me do my thing and would just tell me when something wasn’t right. He’s brilliant.

Why the change from your previous, more bluegrass-y sound? I don’t really think that it’s that different. I perform them acoustically all the time and they flow really seamlessly with the bluegrass. I think it’s just the manner in which we recorded it. We went for the drums and the big guitars and that’s what makes people think that it’s such a different songwriting style.

So does this album represent the direction your music is heading in? Yeah, because my songwriting style is getting darker and what I learned from Gurf’s production was about letting things breathe and giving the music a half-time feel. I realised that that’s what feels best to me right now.