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   Swill and The Swaggerband - The Day After

For those of you who are unaware, 'Swill' (Philip Odgers) is one of the frontmen of longstanding folk rockers The Men they Couldnt Hang. This is a Odgers first side project where essentially he took a set of tunes, a handful of friends and some instruments and stayed in the studio until he got the result he wanted, by that I dont mean that months were spent polishing and shining the release, on the contrary Swill and friends booked the time they needed and simply played until they produced the result they wanted. The end results consists of 13 tracks, a mixture mainly of his own compositions, and some others re-arranged for the recording, as well as Swill's guitar and vocals he's joined for this session by the renowned Bobby Valentino on fiddle (the chances are youve heard Mr Valentino's fiddle even if you dont realise it), Tom Spencer on Guitar and Banjo, fellow band member Ricky Maguire on Acoustic Bass and Jon Odgers on percussion.

The songs are considerably more mellow than Men They Couldnt Hang Material, not to say they have any less of an edge to them in their own right. They range in subject and tempo whilst they do suffer to a small degree from 'sameness', there isnt one song that fails to stand out on its own merits or grow with repeating listening, that said the two or three tracks that particularly stood out for me were the opening track "The Thief, the Brief and the Boy in Blue", probably the closest to some of the earlier Men material lyrically and in style, 'The Day After', a rather chirpy tune concerned with the last few moments of love and life after (I assume) a nuclear holocaust, 'In the Jailhouse Now' a finger tapping tune where Swill is accompanied by guests Marsha Swanson (vocals), and Jamie Mathews on Ukulele. As a contrast 'Lost in the Flood' describes (as indeed you may well guess) the rise of rivers and the associated destruction (homes and lifes etc) is treated with the respect and feeling it merits (Valentinos fiddle really stands out here for its sensitivity) and personally this track more than any other made me reach for the repeat button.

One minor criticism include the lack the inlay details, which had the knock on effect of making me listen a little bit harder to the lyrics...., that aside I for one am looking forwards to the next 'Swaggerband' release which could be sooner rather than later, Swill has recently signed up to Robb Johnson's irregular records and all being well a further release of songs which couldnt quite make it onto this recording will be hitting the streets.

The 'Swaggerband' have made a few trips out into gigland, visit to see if they are playing in the not too distant future and for further information and news.

Source: Folk And Roots (11/2004)