Monthly Archive May 2018


Sexsmith Swinghammer Songs still getting ink

28. May 2018 • Category: Uncategorized • Comments: 0

DAVID REED: An audiophile’s dream

By David Reed, Belleville Intelligencer

Tuesday, May 22, 2018 12:52:09 EDT PM

Lori Cullen – Sexsmith Swinghammer Songs

(True North Records, 2016)

Kurt Swinghammer and Ron Sexsmith have been friends for decades and the two decided to co-write an album of songs for Lori Cullen to sing. Her exceptional voice delivers and interprets the twelve songs with such sincerity that one could easily believe that she wrote them herself. She drifts and floats effortlessly through challenging melodies and complex chord changes like a butterfly in a colourful garden, and Swinghammer has planted a sonic garden beyond compare.

Known as a gifted composer and recording artist, Kurt Swinghammer channels elements of Burt Bacharach (a confessed hero), Brian Eno and Antonio Carlos Jobim – all the while staying completely original. The extensive instrument list includes guitar, piano, bass, rhodes, wurlitzer, B3, omnichord, string machine, vibraphone, marimba, clarinet, English horn, bass clarinet, trumpet, flugelhorn, trombone, harmonica and percussion…plus some stunning backing vocals by Mia Sheard and Jen Foster.

Listeners looking to challenge their ears beyond mainstream formula pop would be well-advised to seek out Swinghammer’s complete catalogue. I am particularly obsessed with Another Another (2017), Turpentine Wind (2011) and his great masterpiece, Vostok 6 (1999).

Ron Sexsmith is a respected singer-songwriter with sixteen albums to his credit and a loyal fan base that includes Paul McCartney, Elton John, Steve Earle, Elvis Costello, Ray Davies and Chris Martin. His lyrics are often described as “melancholic” and poetic. Those who are unfamiliar with Sexsmith’s work should start with Blue Boy (2001), Cobblestone Runway (2002) and Exit Strategy of the Soul (2008).

For this record, Sexsmith has crafted some of his finest lyrics. Throughout the songs he has woven references to gardens, trees, plants, colours, sunlight, stars, rain and water. The songs truly feel like a suite of connected stories.

The convergence of prowess between Sexsmith and Swinghammer creates a magical collection of songs for Lori Cullen to make her own. While I’m aware that some readers may easily bore with comparative analysis, I can’t help but comment on the Joni Mitchell moments that creep up in certain songs. Cullen’s voice has an ethereal clarity in the upper range that any good Canadian would likely compare to Mitchell.

Some Part of Me almost sounds like a Carpenters song but the chord changes are more unexpected and the melody takes some pleasantly unpredictable twists. This song is curiously compelling.

Off Somewhere is a duet with Ron Sexsmith (his only appearance on the album). The lyrics are timeless and thoughtful, with the lines “memories I’ll unpack in time / retrace the pages of my life / for now I refuse ‘cause I’m off somewhere / you are on my mind.” Cullen and Sexsmith drift in and out of harmony like characters in a story, their melodies interwoven with love.

Other highlights include Miracle Home, This Morning, Something Right, Strange is This Life, and True.

I would be negligent if I did not praise the sound of this album. The production is pristine and the mix is stunning. Maury Lafoy produced and David Travers-Smith mixed and mastered. This is one of the best-sounding records I have ever heard, especially on good headphones. Rawcus Magazine called it “an audiophile’s dream.” That is a perfect summary.

War Racket wins Best Music Video Award

19. May 2018 • Category: Uncategorized • Comments: 0

Swinghammer’s animated video for Buffy Sainte-Marie’s track War Racket won at the Indigenous Music Awards, held in Winnipeg, May 2018.