Jean-Luc Swift –New York City Lament (2020)

Jean-Luc Swift is a singer-songwriter who has been inspired by his move from Winston-Salem, NC to Brooklyn, NY. The move to the city that never sleeps was hard for him to acclimatise to after the laid-back attitude of his home. His journey of reconciliation is the basis for his new EP New York City Lament.

The pandemic provided the isolation needed to write and record the EP. While it started out as a critical reflection of New York, it transformed into an ode. The mixture of melodic devices paints a stunning picture of the kaleidoscope of the city. All sales of the EP will go toward supporting Bed-Stuy Strong.

The EP starts with ‘Uncle Bill’s New York City Lament’ which draws you in with a very folk tone, but this does change to something a bit more rock. It is a great introduction to Swift and the EP as a whole. Lyrically, this song explores public life, class and indifference. Swift’s vocals are smooth and easy to listen to.

‘Come/Gone’ is a bit more playful than the opening track with a fun guitar-driven opening. This song is a more personal look at the world compared to the objective observations of the first track. The melody of the track is upbeat and gets your head moving to the beat. Swift’s vocals are a steady thread against the almost perky beat which is a great interplay.

‘Don’t Be A Stranger’ continues the playful vibes in the lyrics. This song is an awkward interaction with an ex who has moved into the same building which is wonderfully portrayed in the lyrics. You can also feel the awkwardness in the vocals. There is something whimsical to the melody of this track as it has an almost beach vibe to it.

‘Modern Choir’ take you back to the tones of the 1960s. This song draws you in with this really great harmonica line in the opening and a swaying guitar melody. There is a more laid-back vibe to this song even though there is a hint of melancholy to the vocals. The track makes you think about those rainy days spent inside when you just want to stare out the window.

‘Offering (In The Meantime)’ has a bouncy feeling to the opening guitar lines, but it does not pass out of the folk realm. There is something rock about the gently driving melody that melds so well with Swift’s vocals. This is a very fun song to listen to and has a different vibe to the others on the EP. While overall a fun track, the lyrics can be a little depressing if you let them be. Swift takes a look at how everyone is indifferent to others and the constant feeling of being on in the big city.

The last track is ‘A Yellow Sun’ which bring the harmonica back in the opening. There is something old west folk about this song that makes you smile. This track has a bit more optimism in it than the rest of the album. Swift’s vocals are utterly captivating on this track and you cannot stop listening to it. The gentleness of the melody melds perfectly with his easy vocals to make this my favourite track on the EP.

Jean-Luc Swift turns criticism into an ode as he looks at big city life in New York City Laments. Each track is a gentle rub against your cheek as Swift’s gentle vocals sweep over you and help you float away. There are a few styles used on the EP, but there is always an undercurrent of something that is simply Jean-Luc Swift.

Find out more about Jean-Luc Swift on his website, Instagram and Spotify.

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