Swallows The Beauty Of Our Surroundings

On this second outing, Swallows' main man Glenn Milchem once again steps out from his familiar position behind Blue Rodeo's drum kit to assert himself as a singer/songwriter in his own right. Despite being Canada's best drummer (next to Neil Peart), Milchem obviously feels the creative limitations of that role, judging by the energy and diversity displayed throughout most of this album. This side of his personality isn't as much a reflection of his country/rock day job as it is of his roots in Toronto's post-punk scene of the late '80s. With the notable participation of former Change Of Heart compadres John Borra (bass) and Ian Blurton (production), among others, Milchem and company have crafted a solid psych-pop gem in the fine Queen Street West tradition. What is most pleasantly surprising is Milchem's depth as a songwriter. The opening couplet of "Waiting For Never" and "Losing The Revolution" packs a real punch, while the more toned down "Fire Engine Red" and the title track are eloquent glimpses of introspection. In fact, what seems to be behind Milchem's words are the undoubtedly endless string of highs and lows he has experienced and observed in those around him during his long and varied career. To hear him draw upon that experience with such vitality on this album is not only a testament to his wide-ranging talent, but also to the fact that after all the struggles he and the rest of the Swallows crew haven't completely succumbed to cynicism. Drumming for Blue Rodeo is surely a gig that Milchem won't soon abandon, but it would be a shame if that commitment ever stood in the way of creating records as rich as this one. (Warner)