Occasion for Song is the newest slow-moving, sorrowful effort from the Black Swans. This album is heartfelt and eloquently delivered. Jerry DeCicca’s almost delicate voice and meticulously melancholy lyrics essentially forces the listener to lean into the music ever so slightly to hear and understand. The end result is engagement by the audience. I don’t think I can explain how important I think that is in this fast-paced, short-attention world we find ourselves in today. You don’t want to miss anything that’s being said, and the payoff is significant when you’ve been able to attend to the moment while truly listening.
This is an Alt. Country / Americana / Folk type collection of songs here with crunchy vibrato soaked electric guitar, banjo, harmonica, and organ. The songs are about the lives of ordinary people in Midwestern towns. Ordinary people who face seemingly inevitable tragedies in one form or another I suppose. I think of the song “Portsmouth, Ohio” as the center or foundation of this record and trying to describe its heartbreaking beauty couldn’t really do the song justice. So I ask you to just listen. There are of course other great standouts as well. “JD’s Blues” and “Where Are You Tonight” are both excellent songs that really grabbed me and pulled me in. The album is sad I guess, but in a way that’s honest and straight forward about how the only real way through is just to keep going. And in that sense I’m thankful for the full 12 songs on Occasion for Song. I want to keep going with this band and exploring the songs as I listen multiple times and appreciate how deeper meanings unfold with repetition.
I don’t want to compare the Black Swans to other artists because such comparisons are never fair and they always seem kind of pointless to me. However, I just offer a few names such as Silver Jews, Smog, and Lambchop for mere reference and varying degrees of relatedness to this kind of music here. Actually, for a slightly strange unexplainable reason, I’m reminded of the Traveling Wilburys as I’m listening to Occasion for Song despite the fact that there’s only one vocalist. Anyway, for people who enjoy those artists, I strongly suggest giving the Black Swans and this album a try if you aren’t already familiar.
The Black Swans: website
You can purchase a CD at Misra Records’ Grandma’s Store