New York indie folk quartet Swear and Shake played the Hillstock fest last week, and will cement their status with a CD release party at Mercury Lounge on Friday July 6 with These Animals and Tall Tall Trees.
The moniker itself captures a certain quality to the group’s vibe, evoking the rhythmic and fitful, but most distinctly their togetherness - as if these four, somewhere on a playground long ago, entered into a pact of musical dimensions. Undoubtedly there is a spirit of play to the music, resulting in songs that toss between childlike vulnerability and wonder, and resounding harmonies that beautifully elevate the stuff of good old indie-folk - The vocals alone, shared between Kari Spieler and Adam McHeffey, are fodder for obsession.
Yet don’t be fooled. If we are to start on the playground, “Maple Ridge” maps the art of growing up. That is, despite its homespun feel, the album achieves definite sophistication. From the first track, the delightfully singsong “Marbles” (streaming below), the band looks to the future with all the tenderness of youthful promise: “I swear I’ll clean up good/I bought us a piano so our kids would grow up smart”. “White Walls”, on the other hand, displays an early world-weariness- an acknowledgment that relationships seem to impact our personal growth more than we’d like. Still, the wistful “Wrecking Ball” addresses our craving for such (literal) impact. The group freely admits another reality of adulthood: that sometimes, though we’ve sworn a person off, we ultimately can’t shake them. - Kristina Tortoriello