Seth Swirsky – Circles & Squares
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. What a breath of fresh air, having never heard any of Seth Swirsky’s solo work but finding every reason to delve into his back catalog after hearing what he can do on his own. This is no new comer as he’s been down the pike, which includes writing for people like Taylor Dayne and even tackled a bit with Mariah Carey over songwriting issues, but remains youthful and vibrant, rather than bitter and jaded. Why should he be, he’s done some great things that do not stick within the music realm, as well as his songwriting achievements. The CD starts right off with “Shine” as he appears to do with most every note of on these tracks. It’s a good way to kick things off, but there aren’t many songs on it that he couldn’t have selected as the opening statement, but I think he made the mark in selecting this. To be honest it doesn’t sit with the best to be heard here, but it does make you want to hear the rest, as they do get better throughout. The title track instantly takes over and the album starts to show its direction with “Circles And Squares” which seems to be about putting it all together. Think building blocks and you get the picture. There is a cool feel to this which mostly sticks to a psychedelic sound. It goes down as a featured track and that speaks volumes for anything. This is followed by the even more infectious “Old Letter,” and I don’t mean that lightly, even though it is a light pop tune. This is something that takes a pro to pull off so well. I can hear many taking a crack at this and missing the point. It can be copied but it seems much too personal to just run through the motions over. It’s another top track to go with the one before it. But that is also kept up on “Far Away,” even if a little less interesting, it’s still of the same caliber if not as aggressive. None of this album is actually aggressive, but once again you get the picture. The question at this point is where is it all going? The concept is pretty romantic but has some rock ‘n roll appeal laced through it. The direction winds up pointing to a wedding on “Let’s Get Married” which really brings the interest up as the songwriting gets more upbeat. It seems to come together anyway as he doesn’t exactly propose, but entertains the idea of wedlock with a touch of humor. It’s done with great character at a medicinal pace and doesn’t fail a note. This brings it to the profound vocal and guitar melodies of “Trying To Keep It Simple,” and it works. He explains how not complicating things does wonders and puts a smile on his face when he does. This rings of the Partridge Family and other 70s session bands like The New Seekers, and others who get inside the publics head through programs and commercials alike. This track keeps the air fresh and alive as it whets the appetite for more. “I Loved Last Night” blends right in but never gets that exciting as it tells the story of how things went the night before. You feel the Beatles all over this, as it is something that has a “Rubber Soul” appeal. But the energy isn’t high enough to put it up there with the more desirable tracks. This is completely rectified on “Belong” and belong to the album it does. This is one of the best tracks overall, with something to behold about it. It pleases much better than some of the others, that’s all. But he gets back on track very well with yet another of the more featured track on “Sonic Ferris Wheel” which retains some reminiscent aspect of the Beatles “Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite.” It is a track worth anyone’s time to comb over the Beatles influences found in it, but also cool how it arrives as the most familiar sounding track. Not only influences bring this on, it’s original at the end of the day, it just has that 1967 feel about it and takes you back to that time.
On “Let’s Move To Spain” it sounds like the wedding was a success and he is now asking her to move out of the country. This has some good flashes of flamenco style guitar but not overly Spanish sounding in the process. It’s just more like an inflection to go with the title. But it doesn’t fail in keeping to the theme that way. As where “The Simplest Way” at first seems like it’s going to repeat some of the magic of the last two tracks but doesn’t meet them with a lot to beat them. It’s a great tune but throws the blend off a bit. “Table” is another story, and gets things back to the sheer talent he is made of. This track has some of the most repeating qualities of them all. A real pleaser. But “With You Now” doesn’t hold up to it. That’s okay when there are tracks like the fun loving “I Don’t Have Anything (If I Don’t Have You)” which gets into what Seth Swirsky is all about. And then he shows his balladry skills on “Abyss” with some string that also remind of “The Walrus.” This is another very good track which also leaves a mention concerning “I Think Of Her,” which is a softer but well delivered statement to end on.