As a music journalist, it isn’t often that I have the opportunity to review music that I genuinely connect with on a personal level, beyond the demands of my job which require me to have a refined ear for music and ability to pay close attention to the little details that make a track a hit or a miss. Ed Roman is a singer/songwriter who has been on my radar for a minute. Following his nomination at the Artists Music Guild Awards back in 2014, his music began to slowly but surely leak into steady rotation on college and specialty formatted radio stations across his native Canada and into the United States and abroad. I noticed that there had been limited press coverage of his incredibly evocative and curiously ambitious work, which I had immediately found to be more entertaining than any of the other nominees he was up against back in 2014. In 2015, it was the International Music and Entertainment Association (IMEA) Awards and the Josie Show Awards where he was highlighted, and I was flat out shocked as mainstream airplay continued to evade him despite his massive success in such a short time period. Now in 2018, I made a promise to myself that I was going to try and put a spotlight on whatever Roman put out, regardless of whether I had a positive or a negative opinion of it (although I anticipated that I would probably enjoy whatever I heard based on the merits of his past work). Then he dropped “Red Omen,” and I couldn’t have been more ecstatic that he had picked this time to share his finest output with us to date.
Anyone who knows anything about the pop music world knows that for the last year and a half, maybe two years, the Ontario music community has been a tinderbox full of aspiring artists who have been fighting, and I mean really fighting hard, to get noticed by audiences outside of Canada’s borders. I’m going to just say it; Ed Roman stands head and shoulders above them all. “Red Omen” heavily recalls the Seattle sound ala The Long Winters and Invisible Boss, but as much as anyone would compare him to John Roderick, Ed Roman is a bit less vulnerable in his lyrical delivery, and in this instance having his guard up adds a certain mystique that makes his market value literally skyrocket. “Red Omen” is a strutting, confident folk rock song that is humble for its time and gives us a look at just how much its songwriter has matured since his last release. This is something that he can be proud of, and if he doesn’t end up getting another wave of national and international accolades for this single I might just have to get out of this business.
For whatever reason, the music media as a whole sometimes fails to get it right when it comes to identifying coming trends and changes in taste. Artists often pay the price, and it’s up to those of us who really care about the advancement of pop culture to make sure that the best talent gets the exposure that they deserve. With that being said, “Red Omen” is out everywhere this summer, and you won’t need to look much further than your local indie radio station to find it.