Andy Swan A Morning at the House of Miracles

Written in the spirit of country and folk greats like Townes van Zandt and Will Oldham, Swan wrote and recorded 27 spontaneous songs, early one London, ON morning. What results are tracks that run between 30 seconds and three minutes in length, and whose subjects range from the beauty of women on bicycles to Terry Zwigoff’s documentary on Robert Crumb. The spontaneity of the recording, however, rarely gives Swan enough time to get the songs off the ground. The album is strongest when it stays quiet and simple, like the instrumental "A Jaunty Tune,” or when it allows Swan, a capable lyricist, to intrigue the listener with songs like a "Knife Fight Night Life.” However, too many of the songs are undeveloped, like "As Far As the Sky Can See,” which ends before it gets a chance to start. It’s easy to appreciate the charm of the start-stop (cough) start-again folk song, but these tracks are often nearing the end when re-recorded; two versions of the same song just feels sloppy. Fan’s of country/folk and acoustic records, or Swan’s other project Detective Kalita, will appreciate this album — they may just wish more songs were realised to their full potential. (Kelp)