Whither Passionate Kisses?


Juliet Simmons Dinallo: when the dust settles, you believe her…


Juliet and the Lonesome Romeos

Tree O Records

Pop-country with a bite. In a nutshell, that’s what Boston-based Juliet and the Lonesome Romeos are offering on No Regrets, the band’s debut album. But “in a nutshell” is hardly the way to describe the virtues of No Regrets, or to indicate the immense promise Juliet Simmons Dinallo holds in her roles as songwriter (or co-writer) and lead vocalist. As per the latter, she has been favorably compared to both Lucinda Williams and Emmylou Harris. You’ll have to listen hard for the Emmylou echoes, but with Ms. Williams she does share a certain timbre. Unlike Ms. Williams, however, Ms. Dinallo is neither a lazy nor occasionally tuneless vocalist and she doesn’t fake trying to be a blues singer when she clearly isn’t one. She brings pure country sweetness to touching love songs such as “Song for You,” with a gripping reading neatly nestling into the arrangement’s Great Western Plains ambience; and she can follow that tender moment with startling, punkish insolence in kissing off a self-absorbed beau in the stomping rocker “Narcissus” (“He’s never gonna love you/not like he loves himself,” she advises in one of the song’s more delicious, and withering, assessments). On the most affecting tune here, “Faded Highway,” concerning a soul completely adrift in a world full of people similarly disenfranchised, she brings it all together: the writing, replete with striking metaphors and incisive personal confessions in honky tonk weeper fueled by lap steel, betrays a Rosanne Cash-like gift for unadorned, poetic confessions, which are further enhanced by a nuanced vocal that rises from a measured ache to a bruised shout.

Juliet and the Lonesome Romeos, a truncated version of ‘Faded Highway,’ live at Johnny D’s, April 26, 2012. The song is featured on the band’s debut album, No Regrets.

Aiding and abetting Ms. Dinallo’s exemplary efforts are her husband/guitarist/co-producer Michael Dinallo (who produced the album with his Tremolo Twins partner Ducky Carlisle) and the ace band that knows how to serve the songs while embroidering the vocals just enough to add enticing subtext and captivating ambience to tales well told. This takes the form of full-on, thick-textured rock ‘n’ roll assaults (e.g., “No Regrets” and “Narcissus,” the latter featuring a searing solo courtesy guitarist Jonas Kahn); country soundscapes reflecting influences ranging from honky tonk to New Traditionalist; and austere, folk-flavored settings such as that gracing the acoustic guitar-and-vocal beauty, “Winter Night,” a tasty billet-doux of 2:17 duration, delicate as an Old English ballad.

Though the album begins with the ringing, soaring sayonara of “No Regrets” and frequently returns to themes of betrayal and generally thoughtless behavior she will no longer tolerate, light does surface tantalizingly at points (see “Song for You” above). At the end she leaves the listener not adrift, as she is on “Faded Highway,” but with something positive: in the hopeful verses of “Learn to Love Again,” a hymn to healing a broken heart, the lyrics’ earnest sentiments are burnished by the hum of Jeff Allison’s church-like B3, an electric guitar’s spare, robust punctuations and Ms. Dinallo’s own soft voice soaring assuredly at the end as she announces, “I want to sail away on a ship of fools/to a place far away/where I can start something new/regain my smile, rest my weary soul for awhile/I want to sail away on a ship of fools/to a desolate isle/where I can hide for awhile/where my heart can mend/and I can love…again/where I can learn…to love…again.” She repeats “I can learn to love again” a third time, the song quietly fades, and you believe her.

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