Few artists make music that’s difficult to explain. Just like, few artists make music that’s as beautiful as the music made by the late Richard Swift. While Swift left this world too soon, his swan song will definitely be the beautiful notes that dance all over his final album, The Hex. Swift brings melodies from nowhere, he mixes old school doo wop and R&B energy like it’s second nature, and he spins alone in a universe made up of unworldly sounds.
If you can imagine an album made up of the ideas that Sam Cooke may have had for future works, that would be the best description of what’s happening throughout these tracks. The opener “The Hex” takes the listener down a road of bombastic drums and snaps that lay below Swift’s falsetto voice. This is only heightened with the second track, “Broken Finger Blues” where the piano by itself sounds like that accompaniment that bands like The Black Keys and Jack White can’t seem to find on their own. Swift is channeling so many soul greats on the song that it’s as if he went back in time to record it.
There’s a swampy and dirty feel to “Selfishmath,” a southern charm to “Babylon,” and a sonic dissonance to “Sister Song” that sounds like it could be the end music to a spaghetti western. Smith is far ahead of the game here, offering up melodies that don’t exist anywhere in music today, though they remind you of so much that came before them. The slower build that “HZWLD” has before the beat drops is masterful while the album’s closer “Sept20” is Swift at his best both musically and lyrically.
You can stream The Hex on all streaming platforms, or buy your own copy from any digital store front. You can also preorder physical copies and bundles directly from Secretly Canadian. The first 200 orders come with a rare folded poster featuring artwork by Swift himself.
Image Credits: Photo by Rachel Demy.