If you could imagine the soundtrack for restoring an old barn by hand in British Columbia, it would sound an awful lot like ‘Souvenir’ by Pharis & Jason Romero. The much lauded duo, who have won multiple Juno and Canadian Folk Awards, recorded their new album in that restored barn featuring seven banjos that Jason hand built himself. The sound of chiming acoustic guitar and soft gut string banjo begins the video as work boots tap in time on a wooden floor. The husband and wife team are seated in what looks to be a well-preserved mercantile shop from the early 20th century as they blend their voices in harmony.
Pharis reveals ‘Souvenir’ came together on the final day of recording, “The banjo and guitar vibe changed as soon as we sat down to play it. Jason retuned the banjo and switched from clawhammer to a rhythmic fingerstyle; I slowed the guitar down and played heavy on the downbeat. A couple takes in, and the song sat where you hear it now,” she shares with us. “The words are about how experiences in life become souvenirs of times, places and people. It’s about keeping yourself centred as you carry them. In other words, the souvenirs don’t become you – you are at the core of them, and you are gold.”
The new album ‘Tell ‘Em You Were Gold’, including ‘Souvenir’ will be released worldwide by Smithsonian Folkways Recordings on June 17th.