“Photo” is the title track to the Chrissie Romano Band’s album, and it’s all about how sensory stimuli can sometimes drive us (seemingly) crazy. During the song’s second verse, Romano sings, “I was just walking down the street and I smelled your perfume.” She’s so overwhelmed, the lyric states, she spins around, gets dizzy and falls to the ground looking like a fool. This bit about falling to the ground may be an embellishment, of course, but it supports the main point — memories are powerful.
The song begins quietly before launching into a relatively propulsive groove. It features plenty of jazzy keyboard. The drumming is also particularly crisp. The backing music is sparse once Romano starts singing about how it’s not been so long since she said goodbye to this lover, though. This memory bomb arrives simultaneously with that other’s person’s perfume.
Later in the song, this character attempts to express all the different emotions running through her head. “I was sad, I was pissed, I cried, I felt bliss, I thought I was all right.” That is, “until I came across your photo.” Isn’t it rough when, just when you think you have your life together, a memory throws everything into a tizzy? This is how Romano feels. We can live lives that are so active, we begin to forget about that time someone broke our heart. It’s only when a scent or a visual of some kind captures our attention, though, that we realize how we’re not quite healed yet. Instead, we’ve only been temporarily distracted into a false sense of wholeness.
“Time can’t time take my memory/Time won’t take my memory,” she sings. “Why won’t time erase these memories?” People are oftentimes quick to verbalize the cliché, ‘Time heals all wounds.’ Is there proof of this theory, however? If time truly healed all wounds, memories would be powerless, right? We could look at old photos, smell a former lover’s perfume or come across a letter our old lover wrote, and feel no pain. We say these phrases, perhaps, because we sincerely want to believe them. We want to think of the calendar as our medicine. It’s probably not so, though. The wound will sting less as the years pass but will likely never heal completely.
Circumstances will separate us from ex-lovers. Circumstances cannot divorce us from memories seared into our minds, however. With that said, though, Romano never sounds like a loser. Her tone is surprisingly upbeat, positive and energetic. She may be hurt by these reminders, but she hasn’t given up hope. She sounds like she’s going to push through this memory flood, no matter what.
Vocally, Romano sings with a strong, precise singing voice. She at least sounds like she’s putting on a brave face, and the sound of her voice is proof of this. Stylistically, this is poppish folk-rock music.
If you’ve ever had a broken heart (And really, who hasn’t?), you’ll certainly find plenty to relate to in this song. Now, with cameras in our phones, we may even have hurtful memory pictures right at our fingertips. Even so, Chrissie Romano reminds us we can be strong, press on and find our healing or something close to healing.