Real Country Music
Swindlin’ Man EP
Producers: The Swindlers
With this EP, The Swindlers, by way of
Now, often I find “Red Dirt Country” a bit tedious due to a
bit of sameness. Many of the acts seem to all have the same backwards ball caps
and find beer and
And yes, I do understand that these are somewhat harsh statements….but Red Dirt does suffer from sameness. (True… sameness is not a rare problem in music; think bluegrass). However, there are some artists that rise above this, and carve out a singular place of their own. For instance, Brandon Jenkins often writes and performs like no other. Brian Keane is another example of uniqueness. But for every “I’ll Sing About Mine” there seems to be “A Girl In A Truck” waiting to fit every gripe I have about the genre.
Often, as I listen to a station that features Red Dirt I feel the same as I do when I listen to Top 40 Country. The artists begin to sound alike after a few minutes and I find myself changing the channel. Being a singular voice and being an artist should be more than sounding like your peers.
As I listen to Swindlin’ Man, I can’t help but have these larger notions of the genre as a whole spinning around my head. In fact as I looked, at the photos available of the band online, I began to hear echoes of Randy Rogers and Josh Abbott before I ever pushed play. Just from the pictures, I felt certain that I soon would be hearing Red Dirt.
And I did…but I heard something else too. I heard echoes of early Robert Earl Keen Jr, and even a bit of early Charlie Robison, two artists that arguably started the whole thing. To hear hints of the founders, for lack of a better word, I was surprised.
The disc begins with “Abilene Nights”. And yes, the chorus
mentions a pretty girl but I argue there’s something more to this song than
just checking the boxes to make sure you have every Red Dirt cliché included in
the lyrics. Consider a bit of the chorus “I’m in love with Abilene Nights, got
a pretty girl on my right arm, holding me tight, Abilene Nights, won’t you please take care of me…” Among all the
mentions of friends and having a good time, there is a recognition that it
could all end, why else would he bother asking
But this bit of vulnerability is hidden, in an otherwise somewhat feel good anthem, and is only found if you’re looking. I would much rather prefer the notion to be much more blatant.
The next track “Take My Breath Away” rides the line of cliché again as it mentions “I love the way you hold me tight, and I love our little fights, I love the way you draw me near, and whisper softly in my ear, that you love me…..”
I’ll be honest I was reaching to turn it off. I’d had enough, but before I could reach the player, I heard the line, “Girl, can’t you see the cold hard truth, that I want you to take my breath away.”
Oh….well, now I’m listening to a take on the old theme of nothing’s wrong but nothing’s right. A bit of vulnerability and emotion again saves a rather ok song, and allows me to continue my listen.
The next track, “Road Called Love”, tells of several couples that met and soon found themselves on the road called love. The last verse is used as a way for the singer to say he’s “looking for the exit” that will lead him to this road he’s ready to travel. Again, this track shows itself to be a little vulnerable, but, it falls short on craftsmanship when compared to the past few.
With, “The Way Things Are”, the time soon after a relationship ends is examined. It speaks of the trying to get past it stages of trying different substances and women. The best line in the song being, “I compared them to you and that wasn’t fair to them, and it wasn’t fair to you.” Acceptance of the change comes in realizing that it’s just the way things are. Overall, this is one I feel like I’ve heard before; there is definitively a strong likeness to something, but what? Maybe it’s just that the sentiment is too common.
“Swindlin’ Man” however returns The Swindlers to a better form. With a bit of the tempo of Charlie Robison’s “Desperate Times” mixed with a bit of the boasting found in Waylon’s “Ramblin’ Man”, “Swindlin’ Man” finishes the disc nicely.
I’ve discussed all the tracks found here in a way that rightfully shows the promise of Nick Swinford’s pen. Swinford is the lead vocalist, rhythm guitar player, and main lyric writer for The Swindlers. In fact, Swinford self-penned all of the songs except the lead track. On “Abilene Nights” he shares a credit with the lead guitar player.
However, the production of the disc is a bit lacking. Hopefully, by the time the full disc is ready for release, Swinford and The Swindlers will find a way to up the production and find a sound that compliments some moments of interesting writing. Also, hopefully, the time before now and them will also see them move further away from the fine line of cliché and rest in the area hinted about in those interesting moments.