“Magnolia” by Swift Creek

Swift Creek
Magnolia
Vital Records
3½ stars (out of 5)

By Larry Stephens

The band has said that their intent is to play their music without regard to genre. Since bandmember Kevin Brown composed seven of the tracks they have ample opportunity to do just that. “Rattle Them Bones” catches my attention with its unusual music with the banjo (I think) providing a haunting background. It’s different.

“Bluegrass Hurricane” is a history lesson about the rise of bluegrass on the music scene and features some good fiddle by Stephen Fraleigh. A pastiche on the Eagles song with a similar title, “Life In the Slow Lane” is a change of pace, telling the story of Mr. and Mrs. Everyday Couple as they wend their way through an unexciting life, “trying to make it through to Jimmy Fallon but their heads begin to nod.” A lot of us can identify with this. The musicians aren’t challenged except for playing “Sail Away Ladies” at a moderate pace. This is a number dating back at least to the early 1800s and they do an adequate job, but you can’t judge the depths of their talents on this CD.

Are you going to like this? I suppose you can call it country – today’s country is anything except Beethoven but no, not really. If the late Dr. Stanley played the best music in the world then this may not be your cup of tea. They remind me of Nothin’ Fancy but not as bluegrassy, though they do include “Ashes of Love.” The harmony on “Ashes” doesn’t mesh very well nor do they on “Irene” with Ann Searcy singing lead. “The Way,” a bluesy number borrowed from Tony Scalzo, has an interesting rhythm and music and lyrics about two people just exiting their everyday lives that leave you wondering what it’s all about.

The children woke up
And they couldn’t find ’em
They Left before the sun came up that day
They just drove off
And left it all behind ’em
But Where were they going Without ever knowing the way?

Swift Creek knows where they are going and it’s definitely their own path. Of curse, that makes their music Americana since there’s no other adequate description. Like any band that won’t be pigeonholed, you must listen to it to decide if it’s your kind of music.

Swift Creek