Sunday, October 09, 2005

The wonders of Delmore

Black swanThere's nothing intrinsically moody or morose about black swans (cygnus atratus). Like their common white brethren, these avian natives of Australia are non-migratory--which means they build their little nest and stay put. But if my experience with swans is any indication, God help you if you attempt to approach said nest. Swans are not known for their affable demeanor or forgiving nature.

The Black Swans is a great name for a band. In this case, it aptly evokes the cool elegance and mystery of the Columbus, Ohio-based group. As with so many bands I've encountered recently, they blur the genre lines--some bluegrass, pinches of folk and blues, a little lounge and, of course, indie rock. You're drawn immediately to singer Jerry DiSicca's aloof baritone (think a deeper, darker Bryan Ferry) and the eerie violin playing of Noel Sayre. Be warned: This is emotionally stark, seriously depressing stuff. My first association when I heard the song "Who Will Walk In The Darkness With You," was Roy Orbison. But Orbison's music had an element of camp--highlighted by David Lynch when he used "In Dreams" to excellent effect in Blue Velvet. Black Swans wallow in unrelieved misery. I'm not here to speculate about people's private lives, but I hope music proves their salvation.

Who Will Walk In The Darkness With You (mp3) - The Black Swans

Blue Skies (mp3) - The Black Swans

Buy Who Will Walk in The Darkness With You: US, UK

Black Swans

The Black Swans are on a little Nashville label called Delmore Recordings, which is where I found Diana Darby. The alt-country world is crowded with female singer-songwriters, but Darby's voice is special, with the haunted, naked quality of a less-urban Cat Power. She's released several albums, including the new Magdalene Diaries. Once you've heard her, it's hard to get the sound out of your head.

Diana DarbyMagdalene Laundries (mp3) - Diana Darby

Ferry (mp3) - Diana Darby

Sarah (mp3) - Diana Darby

Other Diana Darby albums:

Fantasia Ball: US, UK, Naked Time: US, UK

I assume Darby's song refers to the Magdalene Laundries where thousands of Irish Catholic women were imprisoned for decades as slave laborers for their dubious sexual "crimes." If you never saw the film The Magdalene Sisters, search it out. It's an amazing witness to abuse of power in the name of religion that you'll appreciate even if you're not Catholic or don't have an ax to grind with the Catholic Church (I'm not, I don't).


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