Released in September 2014, there’s a hardened layer of industrial grime — rather than Southern dust — that baffles the sound of Ellis Swan‘s I’ll Be Around. Swan’s gothic tales contain a kinetic hum, an intuition that can only come from an urban environment.
Intoning rather than singing, Swan’s songs are nearly indistinguishable from one another, only “Shooting Sparrows” rising above a resting heart rate. Borrowing Jandek’s air of mystery, the representative from Corwood’s efforts are largely exercises of arcane obscurity, occasionally flecked with poetic brilliance; Swan’s I’ll Be Around is a cohesive piece of work, one large tale composed of disparate strands.
The most striking elements of I’ll Be Around are the intermittent lyrics, those that ring out from the darkness: “Pour yourself another cigarette” urges Swan on the bluesy “It Comes Tonight.” Written as if a sinister collaboration between Robert Frost and Cormac McCarthy, “Where the Road Ends” begs, “Open your eyes, my friend.”
Aside from the traipsing melody of “Morning Light” and plunking “King Street Blues,” blackness pervades I’ll Be Around. Despite its constant rhythm, the foreboding chase of “Blowing Kisses” is one that cannot be escaped. “Got an Old Hat” finds Swan teetering in and out of consciousness. Taken as a series of monologues spoken to a mirror, the narrator walking away, backwards, at a measured pace until the voice is no longer audible on the closing “I’ll Be Around” — the title track signifying either a threat or promise.
A haunting album, the shadows cast by I’ll Be Around only grow in size, yet remain just out of reach as Swan succumbs to dusk’s passing. To tie the narrative of I’ll Be Around together one must trace the myriad threads of spiderwebs that reside within a darkened mind.
Stream/purchase I’ll Be Around below.