For those of you who are
unaware, 'Swill' (Philip Odgers) is one of the frontmen of longstanding
folk rockers The Men they Couldnt Hang. This is a Odgers first side
project where essentially he took a set of tunes, a handful of friends
and some instruments and stayed in the studio until he got the result
he wanted, by that I dont mean that months were spent polishing and
shining the release, on the contrary Swill and friends booked the time
they needed and simply played until they produced the result they
wanted. The end results consists of 13 tracks, a mixture mainly of his
own compositions, and some others re-arranged for the recording, as
well as Swill's guitar and vocals he's joined for this session by the
renowned Bobby Valentino on fiddle (the chances are youve heard Mr
Valentino's fiddle even if you dont realise it), Tom Spencer on Guitar
and Banjo, fellow band member Ricky Maguire on Acoustic Bass and Jon
Odgers on percussion.
songs are considerably more mellow than Men They Couldnt Hang Material,
not to say they have any less of an edge to them in their own right.
They range in subject and tempo whilst they do suffer to a small degree
from 'sameness', there isnt one song that fails to stand out on its own
merits or grow with repeating listening, that said the two or three
tracks that particularly stood out for me were the opening track "The
Thief, the Brief and the Boy in Blue", probably the closest to some of
the earlier Men material lyrically and in style, 'The Day After', a
rather chirpy tune concerned with the last few moments of love and life
after (I assume) a nuclear holocaust, 'In the Jailhouse Now' a finger
tapping tune where Swill is accompanied by guests Marsha Swanson
(vocals), and Jamie Mathews on Ukulele. As a contrast 'Lost in the
Flood' describes (as indeed you may well guess) the rise of rivers and
the associated destruction (homes and lifes etc) is treated with the
respect and feeling it merits (Valentinos fiddle really stands out here
for its sensitivity) and personally this track more than any other made
me reach for the repeat button.
minor criticism include the lack the inlay details, which had the knock
on effect of making me listen a little bit harder to the lyrics....,
that aside I for one am looking forwards to the next 'Swaggerband'
release which could be sooner rather than later, Swill has recently
signed up to Robb Johnson's irregular records and all being well a
further release of songs which couldnt quite make it onto this
recording will be hitting the streets.
'Swaggerband' have made a few trips out into gigland, visit
www.tmtch.net to see if they are playing in the not too distant future
and for further information and news.
Folk And Roots (11/2004)