Dex Romweber is a kind of mysterious chameleon, never ceasing to morph his sound. And this has never been truer than on his newest record Carrboro, a warm collection of raspy blues, old school crooning, high energy rockabilly and down home soul. With a few covers thrown in, there’s no stone left unturned for Romweber, who brings his personal touch to every song he sings, never failing to surprise and excite you. And after three decades of making music, that’s a feat in itself.
The first track on Carrboro is a beauty, but it sure as hell does not set the tone for what else is in store. He covers Findlay Brown’s “I Had a Dream” with a soulful, dramatic sheen, belting it out to a spare and beautiful arrangement that builds as the song progresses. When “Lonesome Train” comes along, you may be questioning if you’re still listening to the same record. This is thanks to Romweber seamlessly shifting between his velvety country twang and his low, gritty rasp, as he sings the blues about getting his baby back. Originally recorded by Cecelia Batten in 1957, this is one of Carrboro’s feistiest standouts. Romweber builds on this sound on T. Bone Burnett’s rockin’ “I Don’t Know”, a whimsical, catchy rockabilly number.
Romweber keeps us on our toes when he reinvents himself again on the eerie surf rock of “My Funny Valentine”, an instrumental version of the beloved Rodgers and Hart show tune from the 1930s. He continues that psychedelic wave riding on “Midnight At Vic’s”, another instrumental that’s positively electric and thrilling – surf rock after dark. “Nightide” follows suit, sultry and devious, and heavy on the saxophone.
There’s an old timey sound to Carrboro, but rather than feeling outdated, it transports you back with it, to dark honkytonks and bars with hot jukeboxes and plenty of well-worn floor on which to dance.