About Swallows

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Swallows sitting around a table at Nye's
From left: Jeff Crandall, Mike Nordby, Justin DeLeon, Aaron Kerr, Tyson Allison. Photo by Cori Miller.

IAMA Winner

Swallows released their third studio album, In the Shadow of the Seven Stars on March 19, 2021. The title song from the album earned the band an International Acoustic Music Award at the 18th Annual IAMAs in February 2022.

About the band:

Swallows has been described as a “complex combination of American roots and Old World folk music” (Minneapolis City Pages), “Atmospheric Americana” (Curious North), “rootsy punk” (Minneapolis Star Tribune) and “a little prog rock, a little classical, a little old Sabbath-type metal, a little Old World folk” (Hymie’s Vintage Records).

The band formed in 2008 when singer-songwriter Jeff Crandall and cellist Aaron Kerr decided to rename their previous band from Thinland to Swallows after two members left the group. An album was already in the works when Aaron and Jeff started recruiting new members, and the new line-up was barely formed when Swallows’ debut album Songs for Strippers (and other professions) was released in July 2008. Although the band was not well-known at the time, “Songs for Strippers” wound up being included on the national music journal Consequence of Sound’s Best Albums of 2008 list at #57, tucked between hip hop artist T.I. and alternative rockers Coldplay.

Over the next few years, Swallows performed around the Twin Cities and set up a handful of short tours around the Midwest. By the end of 2012, Swallows had released a second album and an EP. The release of Witching & Divining in 2012 helped to raise the profile of the band in Minnesota, and Swallows was invited to perform at the Midwest Music Festival in 2013. The band subsequently opened for several national touring acts at prominent clubs around the Twin Cities over the next couple of years.

Since then, Swallows have recorded a third album, have continued performing around the Midwest, and have had their music featured in both film and television. In 2022, Swallows won an International Acoustic Music Award (IAMA) for the title song off of their most recent album In the Shadow of the Seven Stars. Swallows were also IAMA finalists in 2023 for Best Duo/Group and Best Song (Open Music Category). Members of the band were also nominated for an Independent Music Award for Best Concept Album in 2020.

Swallows’ line-up features Jeff Crandall (guitar, vocals), Aaron Kerr (cello, bass, vocals), Jonathan Townsend (drums, vocals), Mike Nordby (mandolin, percussion, piano, vocals), and Brett Hansen (guitar, vocals).

Swallows’ discography includes In the Shadow of the Seven Stars (2021), Witching & Divining (2012), Clear Sky Relapse (2010), and Songs for Strippers (and other professions) (2008).

Swallows is:

Jeff Crandall (biography)
Vocals, guitars, piano

Aaron Kerr (biography)
Bass, cello, backing vocals

Brett Hansen (biography)
Guitars, lap steel, backing vocals

Mike Nordby (biography)
Percussion, mandolin, backing vocals

Jonathan Townsend
Drums, backing vocals

Former Swallows:

Tyson Allison (biography)
Percussion, electric guitars, organ, chimes, backing vocals

Justin DeLeon (biography)

Toni Tinetti (biography)
Cello, vocals

Music Reviews:

“I will tell you that it might be early in the year, but I will be very surprised if In the Shadow of the Seven Stars doesn’t make my list of ‘Best of 2021’ albums. It’s that strong.” – Gary Hill, Music Street Journal

Rating: 9.6/10 Stars: “This album is epic. It’s theatrical and powerful…. Usually, I tell people what song to listen to in order to really get a feel for a band but, in the case of Swallows and ‘In the Shadow of the Seven Stars’, you really do just need to hear this entire thing and take it all in as a whole…. This album from Swallows is seriously amazing. I promise you won’t be disappointed!” – The Girl at the Rock Shows

Rating: 90/100: “Intoxicating, dramatic and adventurous…, In the Shadow of the Seven Stars accomplishes something great, namely, crafting a sincere, literate elegy for [Frances] Coles that should allow her to rest in peace.” – Elmore Magazine

“This is one of the best storytelling concept albums I have experienced in quite a long time. Hopefully we will hear more from Swallows sooner rather than having to wait another decade.” – Indie Band Guru

“This Ripper-related Americana-rock album is exciting and atmospheric…. A must-listen for all rock-music-loving Ripperologists and those who love dark Americana music.” – London Beyond Time and Place

“Who would have thought of a concept album with such an understanding of a subject could work so hard at creating an aesthetic power that is nearly unique in the fields of music it dances within? I’ve listened to In the Shadow of the Seven Stars over 50 times in the last two months. It hasn’t lost an ounce of power in so doing.” – Poplitiko

“If you’re looking for something unique to the bone, then look no further! Swallows is the name of the band and In the Shadow of the Seven Stars is their latest release…. Swallows brings originality to the table tenfold with the new record that is sure to peak the interests of even the average listener.” – Skope Entertainment Inc.

“[An] extremely well-produced concept album.” – Music Connection

In the Shadow of the Seven Stars is the best album released in Minnesota in the past 20 years.” – Mike Warre, WEQY Radio

“It is seldom that one gets to enthusiastically introduce new bands with raw talent, but this is one of those moments. Swallows, an alternative band out of Minnesota has invoked what people are calling ‘rock and roll, ugly and beautiful, profane and spiritual.’” – Consequence of Sound

The Mad Mackerel’s Best of the Month (January 2013): “The rasping, gravelly vocals, sombre cello and chanted junkyard chorus on ‘The Winnowing’ call to mind Tom Waits and The Wicker Man in equal measure. It is a combination we are liking rather a lot.” – John Grain, The Mad Mackerel and Descrier (Oxford, England)

“A complex combination of American roots and Old World folk music, Witching & Divining captures Swallows like a firefly trapped in a jar. Each song is steeped in folklore, feeling at times like an interpretation of John Lomax’s legendary field recordings.” – City Pages (Minneapolis/St. Paul)

“[A] brilliant blend of Americana and Blues.” – Rift Magazine (Minneapolis)

“A record that sounds like autumnal weather, the Swallows’ Witching & Divining blends raspy-voiced frontman Jeff Crandall’s dark story songs with hard, cold blasts of cello, accordion and guitar that fall somewhere between rootsy punk and Celtic folk.” – Chris Riemenschneider, Minneapolis Star Tribune

“A little prog rock, a little classical, a little old Sabbath-type metal, a little Old World folk… an amazing alchemy of roots music, often dark but never depressing and consistently exciting.” – Hymie’s Vintage Records


About the In the Shadow of the Seven Stars album:

Frances Coles was murdered in the early morning hours of Friday, February 13, 1891, under a railway arch at Swallow Gardens near the Whitechapel District of London.

A witness standing outside the nearby Crown and Seven Stars Pub looked on in horror as he watched the scene unfold. He wanted to rush to the poor woman’s side but could not compel himself forward. Instead, he found himself slowly fading into the shadow of the Seven Stars.

In the Shadow of the Seven Stars tells the story of Frances Coles’ 1891 murder in Whitechapel, London, and its aftermath, following the murder’s only witness on a haunted journey from London to America in pursuit of her killer, whom many believed to be Jack the Ripper.

The music for Seven Stars was written shortly after the release of Swallows’ second studio album Witching & Divining. After several delays and a few line-up changes, Swallows have finally completed the album they began recording more than a few years ago.

In the intervening years, members of Swallows have worked on other projects, including 2017’s Deep in the Waves, released under the moniker J. Briozo, and 2019’s To Combat Loneliness: Compositions based on the works of David Foster Wallace, which earned Swallows’ Aaron Kerr, Tyson Allison and Justin DeLeon a 2020 Independent Music Award nomination for “Best Concept Album.”

Stylistically, In the Shadow of the Seven Stars combines the dark atmospherics of the Americana-influenced Witching & Divining with the rock & roll swagger of the band’s 2008 debut, Songs for Strippers (and other professions), which landed Swallows the #57 position on Consequence of Sound’s “Top 100 Albums of 2008” year-end list.

Read more of the Seven Stars story

Read more about the making of the album

Hunting the Ripper: Album background research


BUY NOW: Digital download and CD digipak now available on Bandcamp.com

Listen to Swallows on Spotify



Swallows’ press kit photos
All photos by Cori Miller (except where noted)

Swallows standing in front of a wall at Nye's
From left: Mike Nordby, Justin DeLeon, Tyson Allison, Jeff Crandall, Aaron Kerr

Swallows at theater on St. Anthony Main
From left: Jeff Crandall, Aaron Kerr, Justin DeLeon, Tyson Allison, Mike Nordby

Swallows standing near wall at Nye's
From left: Mike Nordby, Justin DeLeon, Tyson Allison, Jeff Crandall, Aaron Kerr

Swallows standing in front of the bar at Nye's
From left: Aaron Kerr, Justin DeLeon, Tyson Allison, Mike Nordby, Jeff Crandall

Swallows standing in front of wall at Nye's
From left: Mike Nordby, Justin DeLeon, Tyson Allison, Jeff Crandall, Aaron Kerr

Swallows' guitarist Brett Hansen
Swallows’ guitarist Brett Hansen (photo by Neil Schloner)

Cellist Toni Tinetti singing backup vocals with Swallows at the 7th Street Entry
Cellist Toni Tinetti (the voice of the ghost of Frances Coles)

Seven Stars album cover

Seven Stars album artwork

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Seven Stars Album One Sheet (PDF)


Seven Stars Album Lyrics (PDF)


HearNow album streaming preview