Album: Lenses by Dead, Dead Swans


Dead, Dead Swans is a project where every element and every note feels completely organic. The project is a mix of folk and country that had previously only released one EP before the latest offering: a full-length album by the name of “Lenses”. Ok this record, John E. Swan collaborates with many other musicians on this very ambitious record. Let’s dive deep into this album and see what it’s all about. 


The album begins with the soft and somber track, “Wait Up“, which feels like it came straight out of a movie. It has a beautiful vocal line that’s focused on storytelling, and Jake makes amazing transitions from chest voice to head voice to make things sound cool and emotional the entire time. The chord progression and the percussion are beautiful and complement each other well. The second track, “Civil Not Mutual“, has a bit of a slower tempo which builds up to the harmonica section in the middle of it. What I love about this song is how it didn’t overstay its welcome. Advice has only a guitar and vocals, which had much more emotional weight and delivered the vocal lines more accurately and expressively. Following this is the Interlude in A# which has a very cool use of the fiddle and the additional percussion sounds that are a guest star of the album at this point. Bobby Pins is a more emotional and slower track. The vocals are soulful and heavy here. I really love how John sounds like he’s weeping at many of the closing parts of his lines. The fiddle here once again sounds like a film score, the way they mixed it in the background makes it all the more epic. 


The sixth track, “Hard To Say” has a very emotional chord progression on the banjo which intertwines with equally emotional vocals too. Some of the same ideas are repeated on “That Which Will Eventually Kill Me” except for the vocals being more soulful and gritty this time. It’s amazing to hear John sing with some distortion and rasp that makes for an edgy and full-of-attitude performance. After that, we have “Toys“, a 1-minute interlude with some ambient sounds that instill a feeling of childhood nostalgia and actual “toys” rattling. “Water’s Muddy” has the best arrangement and song structure…and it’s my favorite song on the album by a longshot. The second to last track, “Are You O.K” is another masterful folky number that feels so traditional and so laid back that you will love to sing along to its beautiful and clear melody. The album closes with “Used To You“, which only features the vocals and a beautiful and highly emotional chord progression that transfers you into that coffee shop/pub feeling once again. This is one of those “less is more” tracks because of the emotional weight it has by only having such a simple instrumentation.

In conclusion, this album is varied and features elements of folk, Americana, and country…with the folk parts dominating slightly over the other influences. I really have to highlight how I felt so many emotions with the soulful singing and the multitude of instruments but the opening and closing track had some of the most straightforward arrangements. Such organization and presentation of the featured artists and their contributions to the album made everything much more enjoyable and no instrument or element overstayed its welcome…a total 10/10 record that I recommend.