About a year ago, Richard Swift horrifically fractured his left ring finger. For a moment his nimble guitar and piano work flashed before his eyes. Doctors were saying things like “movement and feeling could eventually return,” etc, etc. Certainly, not even a little blip on the sadness radar of humanity, but a massive bummer for a fellow who has carved out a niche as one of independent music’s sought after session players and producers – and especially in relation to the astounding Richard Swift solo output we all know and love.
So, it’s with a great, collective sigh of relief that he’s back to churning out new material like “Whitman.” It’s chugging, chiming and triumphant, featuring Swift’s always-endearing falsetto and casual call-and-response lyricism. “I’ve got my own Whitman…Farewell, farewell/I hope it did you good/To say the things/My father never could,” Swift pines. The song is a cryptic salute to Walt Whitman, whose American lineage of primal, urgent art can be traced to include Kerouac and Dylan, Bo Diddley and Beefheart – right on through to modern outsider-pop wunderkinds like Swift. And according to Swift, “Whitman” is a nice taste of what we can expect from his next longform recording.
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The same can be said for the remainder of the Walt Wolfman EP. Conceived in the same spirit that gave us 2008’s cult favorite Ground Trouble Jaw EP, these blown-out, basement R&B rippers are not for the faint of heart. They require movement and sweat, dancing with a cocktail glass in your grip until your shoes are soaked in booze. Highlight of the set, “MG 333,” is a raw and ghostly trance, a blast of kinetic energy and jazz cigarette smoke. Meanwhile, the neu-vintage jive of “Drakula (Hey Man)” and “Zombie Boogie” pack a timelessness that transcends their seasonal titles. And yeah, that’s Swift himself on rapid-fire drums across the whole damn set. Shit, he might have been fine without that measly finger after all.
Richard Swift is performing as a touring member of The Shins this fall.
Walt Wolfman EP will be released by Secretly Canadian on October 18th, 2011 in digital and vinyl formats.
1. Whitmanbr>2. MG 333
3. Laugh It Up
4. Zombie Boogie
5. Out & About
6. Drakula (Hey Man!)
7. St. Michael