Monday, 27 May 2013

UPCOMING! The Steady Swagger Album Launch

  UPCOMING! The Steady Swagger Album Launch | Saturday, June 1st

When I interviewed the three members of the Steady Swagger a few weeks back, upright bassist Matt Lacombe told me: “Our second album will have a bit more of a live feeling than the first. We really are going to try to bring that live energy to it.” I was a little surprised by that comment. I mean, with its first effort titled …and they call it Whiskeybillie, didn’t the band do just that? How could it possibly get more ‘live’ than that? Of course, such an inquiry was not going to avoid being met with an eloquent, powerful, visceral answer from destiny itself:

“HERE. THAT’S HOW. (Dick). ”

With its self-titled second record, the power trio means serious business. Do not get me wrong: listening to it will never replace witnessing the sheer rawness of what it can offer when it performs live. But, hell, this tremendous new opus may damn well be the next best thing. Songs like Dirty Dancefloor, or One More Shot shall serve as prime examples of that, and they should also be viewed as proofs of how devoted these three musicians are to their mission, which consists of making people dance, drink, sweat, and straight-up lose it. 

The long-time fans will be happy to learn that Barrels of Rum, the pirate anthem heard in so many shows, also made the final cut. In fact, there are not many things that Swagger fans will find disappointing about their cherished band’s new album. Indeed, because, for anyone seeking to acquire an accurate glimpse of this three-people-strong unit’s energy, it truly deliver the goods. However, it does not do just that.
This time around, if the Steady Swagger’s aim to move show-goers’ feet and hips remains a very obvious part of the deal, the songs also showcase the crew’s intentions to display a touch more depth than in the past. On this record, there are folk gems that rely heavily on both vibe and lyrical content to achieve a very casual, very refreshing complexity. Consider songs like Mr. Johnson, a mysterious-sounding piece about a court case in which the accused is a notable liar, for instance. Or else, listen carefully to Our Law is Lead, the tale of a pursuit involving two revenge-seeking men, each of whom growls his own perspective over a fittingly fast-paced rhythm. Clever, fun stuff. The cherry is undeniably a tragic waltz stuffed with symbolism (Mon verre est vide), which is cheekily sung in Matt Lacombe’s slightly broken French. Cool detail: drummer Brigitte Desjardins sings back vocals here and there, a soothing high-pitch addition to the band’s otherwise entirely Tom-Waits-sounding vocal range.
On album number two, the members of the Steady Swagger did what most great bands do: they showed they are an ever-evolving creative team. They remained loyal to what has made them a beloved part of the Montreal dirty folk scene, while not shying away from moving forward. The trio sounds raucous as ever in its party-anthems, having succeeded in giving its fiesta hymns the targeted ‘live feeling’, but it also exhibits a surprising amount of creative dexterity, mainly because it decided to inject a dash more subtlety in its storytelling. In other words, if this record is very recognizably a Steady Swagger one, it could not be mistaken for the band’s first. This is very much a sophomore effort, a wholesome and well-crafted demonstration of the band’s maturing multi-faceted skillset.

The three joyful musicians are launching that newest record at Petit Campus on June 1st, before departing Montreal to go tour the province. It’s your chance to get your hands on a physical copy of it. It is worth your beer (or whiskey) money, I assure you.

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