Swati | Small Gods (Bluhammock Music, LLC)

cd_swatiA satisfying mix of discordant sounds, slurry lyricism, and frenetic chords






Picture the Lillith Fair jacked in the mouth with an Alvarez Yairi 12-string and a young woman barking, "No motherfucker don't bring me down, no, no, motherfucker don't bring me down," and listeners will have a taste of why Swati's performances have such varied reactions. Some find the discordant sound and mixture of slurry lyrics, frenetic chords, and wearyisms satisfying, while others see it as a youthful gesture by a musician with a Tori Amos-like feeling toward traditional musical structure.

Growing up on the Lower East Side's music scene, Swati chose instead of attending Juilliard on a full scholarship for the trombone to hit clubs like the Living Room and Nightingales. After several performances, including one at Arlene's Grocery, and a brief demo, Swati managed a spot on the Lillith Fair tour, and despite a postponement to her career, Swati has come back with her album Small Gods and a desire to make a name for herself.

Her debut album has a distinct energy to it, a kind of Lisa Loeb and Veruca Salt love child, perhaps even with a grittier bit of PJ Harvey peppered in. The title track introduces listeners to the kind of echoey sound that Swati plays with throughout the album. It's an acoustic sound that grows into rock in the song "Blackjack" before "Big Bang"in' it in a track that has as much energy as its title suggests. Perhaps her most touching track, "2 o'Clock in the A.M.," slows the pace down to a syrupy and sad reflection on solitude. The remaining tracks each have their own particular merits, mostly a growing energy of plucky funk rhythms, which are particularly impressive in songs like "Money." The album concludes with a despondent, "New Me," and reinforces the overall tones of intimacy and occasional pessimism.

Lyricism seems to be Swati's largest challenge. Like most of the Lillith Fair crowd, she has difficulties moving away from traditional expressions of heartbreak, transformation, and social criticism. Whether or not this has any relation to her career postponement, one cannot be certain, however, she certainly has some catching up to do in that department. Judging by the number of impressive glimmers throughout the album, however, she's definitely making steps in the proper direction. B- | James Nokes

RIYL: Lillith Fair, PJ Harvey

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