Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
The holes are worn into the knees of the pants that the trudging and shuffling characters that flow in and out of Black Swans songs. They have dirty and holey shoes as well. They've been walking in them for years and years and they've barely got a pot to piss in. They've got "a long line of reasons for drinking this glass of wine." They're up and they're down and they're up. They're down and up and they're down. They're upside, upside down. They are the kinds of people who can't keep their eyes open at night. They get into the house, with their limbs tingling with mental and physical exhaustion, and they just collapse wherever they collapse, after a little bit of a dinner and a meager round of conversation with the wife or the girlfriend. It's just one more day of the same old, hollowing grind coming in a few short hours.
Jerry DeCicca, the lead singer of the Ohio band gives it to us straight. He sounds like a Midwesterner. He sounds like a pragmatic gentleman, or a grizzled farming community type, someone who finds that griping about the weather - how much or how little rain is falling on the crops - to be one of the foremost important topics every not just every day, but every passing hour. Things change, the clouds develop, move in and move out with little-to-no strength or packing extra punch. One never knows what's going to fall or not fall out of the sky, so it keeps us guessing, keeps us talking.
The folks that occupy Black Swans songs don't seem to necessarily lean toward the gloomy side of life, but they're not exactly tilting their views to the sunnier side either. This is the way things are. It's beautifully practical and it's wonderfully downtrodden with those wonderful hints of things that make everything livable - like honey in tea. In fact, the song, "Little Things," is a measure of these thoughts, with DeCicca offering, "I believe in little things/I believe in seeds/Make a wish on a dandelion/Is it a flower or is it a weed?" It shows the dual nature of those thoughts that seem to stack up for these characters. We're experiencing their floods, where there's a foot of water in their basements, where the mold is growing on the walls and they've had to throw out whole stacks of their photo albums. Then we see what comes next - maybe the greenest and cleanest lawn they've ever had and while there's still a residual sadness involved, there's something of a silver lining. It's a shitty silver lining sometimes, but you take what you can get.