The Sway, Fawn Larson’s first solo album, politely pulls you into a hypnotic state as each song swings like a pendulum through a vast spectrum of genres and styles. One minute you’re relating to the flighty, youthful innocence and suddenly you’re delving into the depths of death, both relationally and literally.
I’ve joked that the difficult task of reviewing The Sway is like trying to describe to a friend what it would sound like if Feist, Chet Atkins, Allison Krauss, and Alanis Morissette got together for a writing session. But one of the dangers of name dropping is losing the sense of originality by contrast of familiarity. These songs give you the vision for a new era in Americana music. Without pin pointing all its elements, I’ll try to give you a taste of the pleasures I’ve shared in listening along.
The element of surprise shows up in a Miner’s Song, rightly name. Here’s the take Fawn and team shares: primarily piano led, timpani-like percussion, and no artificial twang. Another highlight is the brilliant completely French song, Ou Est Ton Coeur, that makes people like me thinks it’s all romantic, then upon reading the lyrics we figure out the morbid irony, she’s practically saying, “You’re dead to me.”
My family’s favorite track is Allons a Paris, which I’ve been telling friends could be itself a commercial. However, I wouldn’t be shocked to hear this on the score of a movie or the background to a commercial. This song is so perfectly dreamy and paints a picture that its cleverness is hardly outdone. The icing on that cake, for me is the perfect tone of what seems to be the ghost of Mr. Guitar sneaking in and out until it creates the space for a sweet, swinging solo.
Though the arrangement of the tracklist seems intentionally scattered, there is a building nature laced throughout. The lyrics and music somehow fight the tension of finding that common thread with their same, unique voice while roaming through genre blended, maturely matched sounds.
One could pick out everything from alt. rock, punk, rock a billy, country, folk, and more on this CD. The artful manner of variety without clutter sprouts organically from a pure song writing venture. I think the mark that The Sway leaves in the greater music community is that, without forcing and prying, Larson has managed to create a niche that isn’t inside of any sort of tiny box.
When a voice is versatile enough to serve a song, express true emotion, and paint a picture but remains itself unaltered from these and other outer elements (like instrumentation), it has the power to give shape not only to catchy melodies that sick in your head but to snatch a lump in your throat or lift the corner of your mouth, or make you white-knuckle a steering wheel.
Perhaps these are the types of compliments that are the biggest to be given to a musician and yet they are the gifts that artists like Fawn Larson has given us in the first place, a reciprocating compliment to the world of music , that’s what The Sway truly is.