Thom Swift’s latest offering had me at the title. Not just because I consider myself one of the fortunate few for a myriad of reasons, but also because the title reminded me of one of my favorite songs by Glace Bay’s Dougie Johnson “Two of the Fortunate Few”. I first heard Doug sing it in 1989 and it is still one of my all-time favorite songs. I always thought it would be a hit, but what do I know. It’s a hit to me! (Shout out to Doug Johnson).
Back to Thom Swift and his latest recording, The Fortunate Few. Born in McAdam, New Brunswick, Swift is an old-school road warrior, guitar-slinger, mud-caked roots and bluesman. Thom labours over his songwriting, one minute very personal, then playful, then reflective – no fancy tricks just spaces, sounds and words. His gravel vibrato voice is as distinctive as his root-solid musicianship. Many artists and musicians have leaned on Swift’s skills for their recordings and live performances with the knowledge that you are always going to get the bright musical colours of his voice and his instrument. On his own recordings, Swift sticks with a close crew of “A” list musicians, his friends who know how to complement the Thom Swift vibe to a tee.
A bit of Swift’s history now – 12 years with the critically-acclaimed Hot Toddy (featuring Thom Swift, Joel LeBlanc and Tom Easley), 2 previous solo projects including 2008’s Into The Dirt for which he was awarded an ECMA, 2 Music Nova Scotia Awards, and 2 Canadian Maple Blues Awards. 2010’s Blue Sky Day which earned another ECMA and Music Nova Scotia Award. Swift collaborated with Cape Breton musician Keith Mullins on the award-winning Wood Buffalo Youth Project in 2011. Music critics around the country and across the pond have praised the simple honesty of his music and the deft production he always demands from his recordings. Swift produced and recorded this album at his friend Miles Gallagher’s Fortress Studio, and was given the time and leeway to get it right. He got it right.
The 10 tracks on this album flow like the Nashwaak River in Swift’s home province. I particularly like “Walk”, “Circle of Boots”, and “Forever”. I look forward to a new Thom Swift album like I look forward to a Daniel Lanois offering – with bated breath. If you are a fan of his music, you are going to put this album in heavy rotation. If you are new to his sound, this album will make you buy the back catalogue. I give The Fortunate Few a swift thumbs up!
Don’t miss Thom Swift when he performs in Sydney on Thursday, June 20 at the Island Arts Cafe.