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Veronica Swift: Veronica Swift


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Veronica Swift: Veronica Swift
Leave it to the irascibly spirited and octane-charged Veronica Swift to release the party record of the year! From the pure joy scatting of the blast-off opener "I Am What I Am" (from Broadway's grand musical La Cage aux Folles) to the rabble rousing, mad-cap Joan Jett jam with The Ramones finale "Don't Rain On My Parade" (only available on the CD and digital versions), the incredibly talented and free-swinging Swift swings for the fences and wins the home-run derby hands down on her latest, transgenre triumph Veronica Swift..

Since the album bears her good name, Swift pulls no punches launching into a lung-tearing take on Nine Inch Nails alt-rock "Closer," wrapped tightly with an exploding funk lava over which she majestically growls deep, high, and low then scats out like a machine gun. A kiln-hot version of Duke Ellington's standard "Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me" becomes a barn burning, church raising blues where guitarist Chris Whiteman slices and dices, as the horns rip, roar, and soar (courtesy of trumpeters James Sarno and Benny Benack III, trombonist Javier Nero, tenor saxophonist Troy Roberts and baritone saxophonist David Leon) while Swift, her hippie scarfs billowing, takes on none other than Janis Joplin herself. It is another spine tingling moment on a record full of them.

Without apology, Swift somehow slows things down with an Afro-Cuban inflected dance through Queen's otherwise anthemic power ballad "The Show Must Go On." It is one of those turns in the road which is not seen coming no matter how many times one has driven it. With its extrapolations from Puccini and Nat King Cole, the performance is a perfect example (as is every track here) of Swift's dynamic arranging and full understanding that everything that has come before in her twenty-nine years is fair game to the active mind, and damn well should be.

Inspired by Chopin and recorded by Judy Garland in 1941, with plenty of period schmaltz, Harry Carroll & Joseph McCarthy's "I'm Always Chasing Rainbows" cruises from a grand classical overture to a redemptive, orchestral ballad which deserves to be the keynote song for the next great Hollywood love story. It is a perfect fit! A stunningly torchy Swift original, "In the Moonlight" incorporates a stinging blues motif which, just for good measure, incorporates some Beethoven of all people. Since girls just want to have fun, another original, the snarky Puccini meets bossa nova "Severed Heads," serves as a fun duet with Austin Patterson.

Complete with all the Parisian cabaret trappings she can muster (thanks to accordionist Ludovic Bier and violinist Pierre Blanchard), the intrepid hostess and co- producer then takes us trans-Atlantic with "Je Veux Vivre," from Roméo et Juliette. To Portugal next, for Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Chega de Saudade." Then it is back to Freddie Mercury and Queen once more, guitars grinding, horns blaring, the melody soaring for the ripping finale "Keep Yourself Alive."

A daring, origin story still in the midst of being told, Veronica Swift surely deserves to be with Evenings at the Village Gate: John Coltrane with Eric Dolphy as one of the top discs of 2023. If not, something is seriously wrong with the world around us. Seriously, seriously wrong.

Track Listing

I Am What I Am; Closer; Do Nothing Till You Hear from Me; The Show Must Go On; I'm Always Chasing Rainbows; In the Moonlight; Severed Heads; Je Veux Vivre; Chega de Saudade; Keep Yourself Alive


Veronica Swift: voice / vocals; Adam Klipple: organ, Hammond B3; Philip Norris: bass; Alexander Claffy: bass; Chris Whiteman: guitar; Brian Viglione: drums; James Sarno: trumpet; Troy Roberts: saxophone; David Leon: saxophone, alto.

Additional Instrumentation

Benny Benack III, trumpet; Ludovic Bier, accordion; Pierre Blanchard, violin; Carolynne Framil, vocals; Antonio Licusati, upright bass; David Mann, woodwinds, digital orchestration; Javier Nero, trombone; Austin Patterson, vocals; Luisito Quintero, percussion; Samson Schmitt, guitar; Antoine Silverman, violins, violas; Randy Waldman, piano.

Album information

Title: Veronica Swift | Year Released: 2023 | Record Label: Mack Avenue Records

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