Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Reviews:: Swati Small Gods

Every singer has a story. Usually that story is portrayed in song, but every so often the story is so unique that you are drawn in before you even hear a note. Swati is a female from NY and of East Indian roots. While that is common, the rest of her story is not. A classically trained trombone player, she graced the stage of Carnegie Hall at age 18 before deciding to put down the trombone forever (despite the family pressure put on her) and learn the guitar. Oh, and she’s a lesbian who doesn’t hide her sexuality and refuses to ignore any of her feelings or questions. If that back story isn’t somewhat intriguing to you, I have no idea what might split your wig so to speak.

What makes it even better is as you listen to her collection of songs – Small Gods – you immediately get the sense that Swati is on the cusp of something big. Without forcing an obvious comparison, the anger in her music and vocal delivery reminds me of early Tegan and Sara, with a few obvious qualifiers. First: Swati has guitar chops. Instead of power chords and angry strums, Swati uses a 12-string guitar and experiments with a multitude of different styles. The distorted pedal sounds of MF come out of nowhere, but somehow fit nicely with the gentle riffs of Dodge.

A perfect example of her range is the song Money. It starts off like a typical Puddledive Ani Difranco era number you’d hear in countless coffee shop open mics, but the guitar work becomes extremely complex. She adds a soothing bridge, before finishing the song with a feedback filled, swirling outro. The three elements could easily form their own song, but merged together it’s like some sort of Voltron super song.

Second: Swati, much like fellow NY-based female singer Nicole Atkins, writes with a world perspective more mature than her age should allow. She opens up her heart, faults and insecurities to the listener without a hint of self-consciousness, and her astute observations are delivered in a diverse mix of style. Instead of writing twelve songs that sound exactly the same, she delivers melodic, soothing ballads - 2 O'Clock In The A.M.- that have the same intensity of a post-rock rager like Big Bang. Her angry songs don’t breakdown into screaming fits, and her exploratory feelings of confusion and love don’t play out as pages from a high school journal.

Perhaps the most interesting song on the record is Blackjack. One the surface it’s a simple song about a visit to the casino, but it’s actually Swati describing a night she spent with a prostitute, simply looking for a connection with anyone. Lost and alone, Swati paid this woman to hold her hand as she played cards. That shocking honesty is not something that young artists can usually transfer into song. That shocking honesty is what will make you remember Swati’s name.

MP3:: Blackjack

web site :: label

Posted at 12:37 PM by ack :: 0 comments

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