Kurt Swinghammer Black-Eyed Sue

Buoyed by the positive response to his labour-intensive 2000 release Vostok 6, his first release in almost a decade, Toronto artist Kurt Swinghammer jumped back into the fray with a more conventional pop album. Swinghammer obviously has a deep love for classic pop music à la Bacharach, and a breezy Brazilian vibe pervades. The songwriting and musicianship is beautiful, particularly Swinghammer's acoustic guitar and Maury Lafoy's upright bass. But the lyrics require some patience: a non-fictional song cycle about a past relationship, there are some squirmy personal moments here that make uneasy listening. On top of that, some songs would simply function better as instrumentals. Overall, there are enough treats like "Civic Kiss" and "The Signature of Marilyn Churley" (yes, that's the chorus) to make this the most satisfying pop album of Swinghammer's long and storied career. (Independent)