"Shake" by The Black Swans
Change! doesn't really fit as a title for the second full-length album by gypsy-folk group The Black Swans. Over the course of 12 chillingly atmospheric tracks, Change! changes very little, following a dark, single-minded path paved with melancholy, longing, and regret. (Singer Jerry DeCicca barely enunciates his murmuring baritone vocals, much less approximates exclamation-point-worthy enthusiasm.) A mood record that recalls the candlelit starkness of early Leonard Cohen as backed by Bob Dylan's Desire-era band, Change! perfectly captures a feeling of lonely desolation on mesmerizing dirges like "Hope Island" and "Shake," where DeCicca's repressed vocals contrast with the searing emotionalism of Noel Sayre's violin. Lasting just under 50 minutes, Change! feels about 20 minutes longer, and eventually, the one-note somberness becomes claustrophobic. But overall, The Black Swans have made a worthy addition to the sad-bastard music canon.