Review of Swallows’ “Seven Stars” by Tracks Magazine (Switzerland)

In the Shadow of the Seven Stars album cover

In the Shadow of the Seven Stars

Tracks Magazine
by Roebi
Originally published on October 21, 2022

Translated from Swiss German:
With their current work In The Shadows Of The Seven Stars, the American sextet Swallows follows in the tradition of killer ballads by artists such as Nick Cave & Kylie Minogue (“Where the Wild Roses Grow”), the Dixie Chicks (“Goodbye Earl”) or Lyle Lovett’s “L.A. County.” The third work (minus a live album and EP) by the six-piece band around singer Jeff Crandall is about the murder of Frances Coles near London in 1891. The act was associated with Jack the Ripper. Whether the legendary killer really did it is uncertain. Swallows sets this tragic story (Frances Coles had just turned 32 and was making a living as a prostitute) with lots of atmosphere, darkness and sadness. It makes sense that the Swallows used bands like Tom Waits, Tindersticks, The Rolling Stones and of course Nick Cave to set this dark story to music. The somber, atmospherically dense prelude “The Boneyard” would also look good on Tom Waits. “Wrecking Ball” reminds one, at least at the beginning, of Tindersticks and Waits, before the song – at the line “The Queen Don’t Know Where The Winds Will Blow” – breaks out rocking. The blues-rock “Dead And Gone” revives the good old Stones. They have already dealt with the dark side of life in songs like “Sympathy For The Devil.” “Watertight” is again a song in good old Tom Waits style. Rough, scratchy and sometimes weird. In the gentle indie folk song “Grace,” the Swallows state, “Oh, It’s Better When You’re Gone.” Frances Coles had almost no chance from the start. The heavy “Gravediggers” drags along like a funeral procession, led by Tom Waits. The gloomy, sad ballad “Round About Me” ends the album almost forgivingly: “Long Have I Traveled. Long Have I Run. Your Voice Around Me. This Journey Is Done.”

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