Seth Swirksy strikes again

URL: http://www.seth.com/

Seth Swirsky is a self-described “manic expressive,” an American pop music songwriter (including the Grammy-nominated “Tell It To My Heart”), an author, a recording artist, a filmmaker, a political writer and a noted baseball memorabilia collector. In 1980, at the age of 20, Seth Swirsky wrote the national jingle for Thomas’ English Muffins. After graduating from Dartmouth College in 1982, Swirsky wrote the Grammy-nominated hit “Tell It To My Heart” with Ernie Gold for Taylor Dayne. Jumping ahead, “Circles And Squares” is his latest in a list of such projects resulting in his third solo album. If you did not know Seth Swirsky’s background or the fact that he’s very into baseball memorabilia and a list of other activities, you always have the fact that he’s been behind some music that likely most everyone has heard. But this can also leave an artist back at square one, when they go to make another album. This title is his third one among everything else he has done. And the songwriting is still there, as proven on “Circles And Squares.” Every song has something substantial going on, and that is a testament to his work.

These are all compelling tracks, most of them short and sweet, but none bitter. “Shine” kicks it off in classic pop fashion as it embodies all of the good clichés expected from a good pop musician. The pace isn’t frantic, so you can take it in as it goes smoothly into your ears. This is perfect for headphones, but also any work atmosphere which music can be found. The next track “Circles And Squares” itself gets my pick for the best track on the CD. This is where not only the Beatles but a lot more comes out of him. The elements combined are all well covered for a great slice of what Seth Swirsky is all about. He clearly wants no games in life, and what better way to express it than in a track such as this. Out of everything on it, this takes the cake but not without a lot of tasty frosting to be added. For instance, on “Old Letter” is a traditionally smooth track with even more going for it than the former(opening) track. He has it down in the chorus repeat department with the best of them, and it’s brightly displayed. As where “Far Away” falls shorter of these goals but doesn’t hurt the consistency in the process. It just doesn’t inspire as much as they do, but it’s no throwaway track either. It just tends to leave much less to the imagination. It might be noticed that the whole thing starts to change with “Let’s Get Married” as the songs become more thoughtful and eclectic, as well as more strings enter the picture. This has a lot to offer the masses, but he isn’t over zealous about that. He’s knocking at the front door but hiding nothing to be found in the cellar either. He puts it out there on this one, just a little more than the previous or remaining tracks. So, it falls in with the better work on the CD. The Beatles actually get a mention in the next track, “Trying To Keep It Simple” and completely solidifies any listener that he is a big fan at the very least, but it really falls somewhere between them and the songwriting prowess of the Cowsills. It’s not a huge influence, but when he sings “happy” and you hear this, it’s hard to imagine not thinking of them. But then there are a lot of influences felt on these tracks, you just can’t make so many out as easily as these two on this track. “I Loved Last Night” isn’t one of the more inspiring tracks, but he still sounds inspired as he tells his night before story. However, this has some super tasty guitar fills from beginning to end. Some of the best work to be found in that department, actually. But the kiss and tell factor is replaced on “Belong” with more of the storytelling vibe. This is another one of the better tracks, but none fall too far apart in the attempt to make a perfectly balanced solo CD. This one picks up the energy in the middle and comes alive before taking the tempo back down for a fine finish. All in all it represents the artist in his best light to be found here with a few other equally strong moments. But “Sonic Ferris Wheel” is a bit all over the place with melody and that’s great, but it gets lost somewhere for me. Perhaps it just overrides the basic bones of the other tracks, could also be that a change in tempo is coming on. “Let’s Move To Spain” proves to deliver such a change but it’s really just well-arranged on the track list. This is one of the cooler tracks because the acoustic guitar is delightful as it bounces along with the chorus. It’s a nice touch at this point, but it ends there.

And that is not necessarily a bad thing with Seth because in taking things back down a notch he comes out with another standard track with the most mood driven of them all. That brings it all to “Table” which is a finely-written track that does not disappoint. “With Her Now” is every bit as good and a rather haunting track, just slower but carrying the mood further. And my biggest pick of them all is “I Don’t Have Anything (If I Don’t Have You)” which deals with his material world not comparing to his love. Possessions and hobbies are described for relish and they make a good honest track out of it. The rest on this fresh release is gravy.

Cory Frye

Purchase Circles and Squares: http://www.seth.com/store_circles_and_squares.html