It has taken me umpteen listens to put the words together for this. This new album by female singer-songwriter, Swati, intrigued me immensely and kept me coming back to it because it is a pretty damn good album. I had to come back; it kept pulling at my sleeves. There’s something honest and intense within the grooves here. The opener song, “Small Gods” begins with a Pink- Floyd-like beginning, a pulsing strum that reverberates. On her next, “blackjack,” it occurred to me that this girl can extract big sounds from a few instruments. As she launches into her songs, she sets a musical tone that draws you in as a listener. Then she gives you words to absorb.
“2 O’Clock in the a.m.” is a radio-ready ballad but it is her sharper-edged material that stands out incredibly. The slow anger of “mf” that builds into a funky chorus, turning it into a stronger song as it moves toward the end, works great. She does a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m on Fire” from his highly successful Born in the USA album. It is this song that gives me pause as Springsteen’s original is a perfect personification of intensity and is immaculately conveyed by his singing. Swati’s version is a departure from that intensity in this nice but unconvincing version, her only flaw on this otherwise excellent album. I’m in love with the closer song, “New Me.”
Cut from the same cloth as Ani DiFranco, it actually surprises me that Ani hasn’t signed Swati to her successful Righteous Babe label, as Swati is a perfect fit. But perhaps it is Swati’s own brand of anger and assertion that keeps her independent of even that connection. Swati is an edgy artist with a well-done album that is likely to find a strong fanbase as she pushes her craft forward. She is also a huge talent waiting to be discovered. I’m calling this genuine work a triumph for Swati.
And I still haven’t done this girl any justice in this review. But I’m still listening to Small Gods. So what if she has me all tongue-tied.