Review Summary: Rome looks like they will never surrender.
Patience is something many music lovers need while waiting for their favorite artists to release new material. Some may take fifteen years to churn an album out, some only release things every five years or so, but when it comes to Jerome Reuters’ Rome, he seems to write songs and release new albums quicker than Jom, Dave, and Willie throw down the banhammer here. Starting in 2006 with Nera, Rome subsequently came out with four more albums in four years. Combining the deep spoken vocals of Jerome Reuter with a barrage of different folk elements was something that intrigued me almost two years ago with the release of Masse Mench Material. That album was pretty close to being the best album of 2008 and when I heard about Flowers From Exile, obviously I was excited. Although this doesn’t match the initial brilliance of Masse, Jerome was able to craft a dozen good tracks to show that it is possible to churn out fresh records every year.
The first thing someone who has listened to Rome before can notice on here is that the entire record feels different from any of its predecessors. The band (which consists of Jerome and the engineer Patrick Damiani) makes sure that each record tells a completely different story than the previous and this is no different. While the backgrounds of the songs deal with the Spanish Civil War, there is an aura of every possible feeling that one can experience within oneself. “Odessa” is a story of love filled with desire and overindulgence but Jerome gives these qualities a sense of vulnerability that just works.
Not everything is just able to flow perfectly and work. Even though the intro track is a nice build up of flowing water and violin that leads into the second track, the other spoken interlude songs just do not do it for this reviewer. While they probably tell the story that the album wants to portray (English is just one of four languages sung/spoken), the interludes stop the momentum that the album was running on the entire time. Thankfully though there are only two tracks that incorporate these elements and honestly it doesn’t deteriorate enough from the overall quality of the album and are really just a nitpick.
As for the gems on the album, well they are placed throughout. “Odessa” was already mentioned earlier as being one the most vulnerable songs here. “The Secret Songs Of Europe” and “To Die Among Strangers” are perfect examples of the tribal like folk songs that Rome has in the repertoire; they are definitely the faster paced songs on here. “Flowers From Exile” and “Flight in Formation” are easily the best songs though. “Flowers” is one of those raw and emotional songs that just bring you in the first time listening to it. The feeling of hopelessness is present in the music and lyrics, but the execution is plain remarkable. The latter song goes all triumphant mode in its five and a half duration and brings the listener out of despair and hopelessness. Two songs that flow into another but sound completely different and portray emotions on the opposite sides of the spectrum is a fantastic way to end the album.
Flowers From Exile, despite the minimal flaws, is an excellent album. Some uninteresting sections of songs and the inability to really listen to this beginning to end without being in the right mood prevents a higher rating. That aside, the ability to find marvelous songs on here is a very easy task and it should give the listener an appreciation for the work Jerome and Patrick have done on the album.