Album Review

The Wild, Wacky Stylings of Dex Romweber

Dex Romweber - Carrboro

Dex Romweber’s blend of neo rockabilly and psycho insurgence has served him well throughout his 30 year career, but with Carrboro he manages to channel all his seminal influences and create a work that references no single style in particular. As he has since his days with his early combo Flat Duo Jets, Romweber remains a master of emulation, seizing on a particular riff or refrain and then riding it to its chaotic conclusion. It’s almost ironic that he would begin the album with the subdued tones of “I Had a Dream,” but his take on Elvis’ caress and croon taps a vintage tone he maintains throughout. No sooner does the album get underway then he’s off pursuing more maniacal circumstances, whether it’s the scratchy vocal given to the ominous blues of “Lonesome Train,” the upsurge of instrumental offerings such as “Nightide” and “Midnight at Vic’s,” or the unlikely, offhanded twist he gives old familiar classics like “Smile” and “My Funny Valentine.” Though it all, Romweber rails like a man unhinged -- ranting, robust and full of spot-on determination. Even within that curious diversity, he parlays a singular -- and sometimes sinister -- persona that can undercut the basic piano pastiche of “Tomorrow’s Taking My Baby Away” and "Tell Me Why I Do" as well as an expressive and explosive tune like “Trouble of the World.” Straight forward honky-tonk, crazed hillbilly hoedowns and tearjerking barroom ballads are all nestled comfortably within his musical grab bag, making for a mix of archival reverence and upstart insurgence that would likely have the old stalwarts of Sun Studio nod in appreciation. And, perhaps, a few of their current admirers as well.

One can only wonder why Dexter's music was never featured in a David Lynch film.  

There is some symmetry there for sure...