Thursday, October 25, 2007

Reviews:: Andy Swan Ottawa

It's a crisp morning and you are freezing. Standing on the dock by the lake, you curse your family on the third day of vacation. Your parents have dragged you away from civilization, away from your computer and iTunes, and any form of entertainment you are used to having.

Your father is wearing a fishing hat and vest full of flies (reminding you of Clark Griswald) while your little brother is walking around trying to identify bugs by genus and species. You are trapped. Seeking refuge, you head inside and start thumbing through the few tattered paperbacks that remain standing on the shelves. Louie L'Amour, Stephen King, essentially nothing worth reading.

The one source of hope is the dust covered radio trapped in the corner. Bored beyond belief, you start twisting knobs hoping to catch any sounds crackling through the speaker, and you can only find one AM station full of slow country ballads full of remorse and pain.

But as you sit and listen, the warble of the voices and the gentle bend of the notes from the steel guitar start to sound better. The cadence of the brushed drums syncs with the beat of your heart and you start to relax. Pretty soon the afternoon and two of the novels are long since finished and your start to cherish the ominous silence that surrounds you. That calming sensation that pulses through your body is the same feeling that I get each time Andy Swan starts to sing.

Andy Swan finished his new record - Ottawa - and like that family vacation, it's a true family affair. His musical family (Rolf Klausener, John J. Higney Jr., Jon Bartlett and Jim Bryson) all help Swan transport you to a time long since gone. His simple melodies are never rushed, and his country songs uses just enough folk and just enough hoke (No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service) to please the most cynical ear.

He's able to change moods so smoothly that you barely notice the jump from the up-tempo Twelve Golden Greats influenced Can I Pay You in Sunshine to the heartbreaking Belt Buckle. Every song highlights the little things - like the woodblock percussion line on the beautiful duet, Maybe It's Love or the huge bending guitar notes on the playful ode to former Rolling Stones member Brian Jones - that really make this record shine.

The sequencing is near perfect as Swan's soothing voice sets an intimate tone early on (just listen to In the Shoebox, Under the Bed) draws you in close, and the placement of No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service and The Truth About Thieves provide the quick rush of energy from the latter perks up the record. The crying in your beer You Got the Diamonds, I Got the Shaft is more sincere and emotional than the slapstick title should allow. By the time the back porch sing-along The Great Depression showcases amazing harmonies and string work, you are already hooked.

Before you know it, just like your vacation, the record is done (at 13 songs, it clocks in around 36 minutes) and you are looking forward to next time.
MP3:: Can I Pay You With Sunshine
MP3:: The Sound of Snowflakes Falling

Bonus:: Head over to and download his five song EP - Sunshine - for the grand cost of zero dollars and zero cents.

web site :: myspace

Posted at 8:55 PM by ack :: 0 comments

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