Summer Sunday Flashback Seven: Summer of the Black Swans
(The shadow-stretching Black Swans flew the skies and ran the roads of Central Ohio and beyond in days and nights of yeoman yore, furrowing soulful country-folk-rock and more across the brow of a hooded plow. Which doesn’t mean their sound is obscured: the hood is worn down to see-through. Frontman Jerry David DeCicca migrated to the Texas Hill Country, last I heard, and released his second solo set, Time The Teacher, in February of this year; the third, Burning Daylight, is scheduled for Sept. 28. Haven’t heard either one yet, but the debut is nodded to in the 2014 blog prologue to the following 2011 feature, written for Columbus Uweekly.)
2014 TheFreelanceMentalists.blogspot.com Edition:
Understanding Land is the recently-released full-length solo debut of Jerry David DeCicca, and it sure sounds like a Black Swans sidetrip album to me. ( Yes, yet more turns: As I later said in my 2014 Nashville Scene Writers Poll notes:With Urban Ohio having been replanted fairly deeply in Texoidcana, he murmurs, raises glimpses, puts ’em back, from here to the screen door horizon, between female compass notes, educated yet un-picky picking.)(Also: DeC. production acolyte Bird And Flower/Eve Searls chimes in, train train.) Meanwhile, please partake of a couple vintage glimpses up Black Swans way:
Originally published in Columbus UWeekly, June 1, 2011:
On their 2004 debut album, Who Will Walk In The Darkness With You?, the Columbus-based Black Swans’ usual slow, post-Americana sway leads the way through what could be just another haunted house. But the parlor crooner wishes too hard for life in one still moment of memory, and his antique easy chair begins to rock. Some subsequent tracks, like “Black Swan Blues,” even brush fresh, beautiful bruises across his suddenly sharpened senses. Lesson learned—so, while the Swans’ sweetly spooked and screwed, brave and inspired 2006 Sex Brain is a leap, it takes no stretch (except in a go-o-o-d way).
2007’s Change! raises a juicy moonlight harvest of homegrown surrealism for a hungry community, then (and always) still forming. Co-founding Swan Jerry DiCicca also found his way to some seemingly unlikely production clients, secretly ready to be drawn out. Columbus attorney Eve Searls, of the solo-project-to-band Bird And Flower, was one such born traveler. Ditto elusive Georgia country singer Larry Jon Wilson, who showed up sounding right at home, while “runnin’ on a long chain.”
DeCicca may have held that thought. The Black Swans set aside their richly promising Don’t Blame The Stars in 2008, and started winding up for a left-field 2010 release, Words Are Stupid. It expertly prowls the walls of life, like the twisted balloon critters of DeCicca’s party-attending alter ego, Dr. Silverfoot. Despite the unexpected death of Noel Sayre, who began performing with DeCicca in 1995, Sayre’s newly discovered violin tracks swirl through songs growing around his sound. The album’s recording process, which DeCicca regarded as “therapeutic,” also preceded points of ongoing artistic departure. “All songs are game now,” DeCicca recently reported. “I made a breakthrough with one in Portugal. I thought it was off-limits ’til it happened!”
Thus, the Black Swans found and took the scenic route back to Don’t Blame The Stars. Finally out on May 31, its well-populated, mostly live-in-the–garage-studio contemplation surges with the same intimate dynamic as their shows. The song “Joe Tex” celebrates the congenially inventive soul singer of its title, while the narrator also plows gray fields, with no contradiction. And, after all, “There’s no way of tellin’/If the world’s cryin’ or it’s yellin’/So raise up your arms and dance with me.”
This record release party includes most of the Swans appearing on DBTS, plus their regular drummer Keith Hanlon, who recorded the album while Brian Jones sat in. We can also expect songs from “previous and forthcoming releases,” DeCicca advised. (They just may have another one out later in 2011.)
Bonus 2010 show preview, also from Columbus UWeekly:
The Black Swans
Saturday @ Rumba Café
On Words Are Stupid, Columbus’ Black Swans present language with a new set of sounds, poetically persuasive even when abrasive, and no stranger than George Washington’s wooden teeth. The late Noel Sayre’s violin and kazoo sometimes appear; their relationship always seems key. You could call this “post-Americana”, but the foreign intrigue of “Black Swans Tango” fits too. Despite an ear-popping flight, a typically stubborn romantic jumps onstage “with a band I cannot hear”, serenading his sweetie with very special delivery. Love conquers all! Also vice versa, but still.