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Richard Swift - Dressed Up for the Letdown

Released on Secretly Canadian Records, 2/20/07

Infectious Richard Swift stitches up his cleverly crafted musical attire with Dressed Up for the Letdown. An almost one-man-band, Richard Swift may be perceived as a creative oddity with inspired sounds from the seventies, ranging from Elton John, Carol King and a little something borrowed from The Beatles, to bring you all into his curious audience. The opening tune, titled after the CD, starts you off in the way of Tom Waits along with a small horn section reminiscent of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper album. From there it establishes a tuneful hippodrome-esque platform from where you will be lead with care and profoundness.

The avows Richard Swift makes in Dressed Up for the Letdown slips you into cursory cool comfort, hypnotizes you with a sprightly rolling-piano jaunt that will get you singing along in no time. And you’ll be singing along to some very smart, incisive lyrics for those who are paying attention. Richard Swift sings about many things, from aches and lovers, hurts and suicidal thoughts to John the Baptist in a vulnerable lyrically barb-witted way.

“The Million Dollar Baby” is a tune where the chorus chimes, “ I wish I was dead most of the time, but I don’t really mean it.” There is no one else out there who can sing these words as beckoning as he does. His classic-singer-songwriter style comes through with clear lo-fi perfection and keeps you entertained with an oomph of vaudevillian lilt in his harmonic manuscript.

Even on the front cover of Dressed Up for the Letdown takes a different direction than all that auto-pop that is out there right now. The black and white photograph with Richard Swift standing on the edge of a cliff, behind him a huge black mountain, sporting a poncho while his right hand is clasping onto a cluster of white wind-drawn balloons triggers an image of Antoine de St. Exupery’s classic, The Little Prince. This may be our little musical prince, guarded, angry, inquisitive, sad, sweet and longing and just wishing to be tamed.

Cyber space and record companies are full of heart-on-sleeve- deadening bands with dull lyrics to match. With just one listen, Richard Swift cannot be dismissed as just another musician who sounds like someone from another time. His honest melancholia is bittersweet and succinct, at times, it may make you want to turn away from the mirrored mournfulness and storylines from your own everyday life, but there’s just something about his songs that make you stay without a warning and if you do choose to leave, Dressed Up for the Letdown may call you back after all.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars