Swift Years: Roots Canada Review

 

 

Having absorbed countless repertoires from their years of playing across the Montreal band circuit—bluegrass, pop, rock, Celtic, European folk, reggae, ska, jazz and country—what these three musicians have made of Swift Years fits into a genre some call 'worldbilly'. I'd call that description somewhat limiting. First and foremost, these three seasoned players are masters of their instruments. They can clearly play it all and now play what makes them happy, which is obvious when you watch them. They bob and weave like an aeronautic team, instrumentally, between themselves, taking turns on lead vocals, supporting each other throughout. The degree of concentration to get through each spellbinding composition can be seen on their faces, their music delivered at breakneck speed with nary a note out of place, despite the skid marks. It's a trip you're not able to take very often—and one that requires a seatbelt.


Their set embraced a wide variety of songwriters while, at the same time, showcased songs from their just-released   No Sorrow For Me. Upon first playing the disc, I was momentarily disoriented, having little reference for what I was hearing. Seeing the music performed live proved an epiphany of sorts as it all made more sense upon seeing who was playing what, and how.

 

Material ranged from the Bugs Bunny theme to covers of Woody Guthrie, samples of Brahm's waltzes to a reggae-fied Robbie Burns and "Over The Rainbow" with a dash of the Mickey Mouse Club theme tossed in for good measure. There's more to Swift Years than Spike Jones-esque irreverent novelty: Greek, Hungarian, Russian, Italian and French influences marry with tangos, waltzes and even surf music. Though it may sound impossible, it's not in the hands and voices of these talented, and (in these parts, at least) criminally unsung musical heroes-in-the-making.

 

They clearly play for themselves first, harnessing an ego-free degree of concentration which reveals a higher musical calling. (…) From the whirlwind time changes of "Qu'importe le Chagrin/No Sorrow for Me" to the sheer hilarity of Burns' "Green Grow the Rushes," Swift Years is not light on entertainment value. (…)

 

This 3-disc squad of talented veterans deserve national, if not international, attention for their intense brand of old-school-meets-new, delivered with the hyper-gypsy fervor of simpatico players having the time of their lives. Let's hope they find their way back down the highway again.

 

 

from review by Eric Thom,  Roots Music Canada

 

 

 

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