Richard Swift Dressed Up for the Letdown

Fresh off the heels of the charmingly lo-fi wanderings of double album The Richard Swift Collection Vol. 1, Richard Swift returns with a sophomore release of honest songs about falling in love, messing up and not hearing his music on the radio. In less capable hands, these themes could come off sounding cliché, trite and tired, but in Swift’s case his songwriting has evolved to display a more refined and intuitive approach. Swift plays most of the instruments on the record himself and judging from the many hidden layers of these songs, he can play several instruments quite well. The album opener and title track are trimmed with a background of boisterous handclaps that slightly betray the slow, warbling, psychedelic country mood. A jaunty trumpet towards the end of the track further confuses the melancholic and energetic aspects of the song, resulting in a delightfully intangible malaise. Then it’s into "The Songs of National Freedom,” where Swift proves he isn’t a one-trick pony and tackles piano-fuelled West Coast ’70s rock while managing to avoid any "retro” trappings. On "Buildings in America,” Swift asserts, "I try not to be/someone to love,” but on that count he fails. Based on this performance alone, Swift is a visionary songwriter poised to be taken seriously as an honest, modern voice in song. (Secretly Canadian)