More blues than country, but steadfastly Americana, Patrick Sweany’s latest album cements his reputation as a hard-boiled song slinger. He occupies that space where there is a level of realism and truth to his delivery of a timeless form although sometimes this becomes an overwrought formula. In much the same way as JD McPhearson has developed a stance with his take on the music that inspired him, Sweany expands his remit with a series of self-written songs.
He has been compared to Ry Cooder's depression-era songs, which puts you in the right frame of mind for this set of songs and there's a touch of John Fogerty on occasion too. This mix of hard garage blues, rock 'n' roll and sweaty r 'n' b may go in some different directions. There are both the reflectiveness and effectiveness of songs like the The Island, the murky atmosphere of Every Gun, the grit of It's Spiritual and the hard moan of Every Night, Every Day. These songs have a toughness, but also have their share of romance and that pinch of that other soul that makes songs resonate. The closing, slide guitar led, Terrible Years is like an updated Hard Times in its pleas to keep the wolf (in whatever form) from the door. An old story but one with much meaning for these troubled times.
A tight four-piece helps Sweany deliver these sparse sound songs and it is a sound that should cross borders and boundaries. These songs, like all good blues, appeal on a number of levels. Joe V. McMahan's production has the clarity that these tough and tender songs need to breathe.