Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Brendan Kiefer
Always in the outback of Randy Newman's throat is the weird, scruff of inflection that turns his voice into some sort of lovable caricature, a profitable one that actually leant buckets of legitimacy to his keen observations of the oftentimes hapless characters he wrote about. Those short people were better off with that oddly formed scruff - a weird Mafioso sort of accent. The Black Swans lead singer Jerry DeCiccia shades his words on new record Change! with a similar sort of drawl (another word could be better, maybe, but there's an unmistakable drawl within it) and his songs of stark beauty wander like auburn and pink skyscapes - the ideal backdrops for hot air balloons to be pasted against should the hobby ever become more of a popular one in the winter months. The troubles that he chronicles shake like a violin string and feather through the air as a fading jet stream might, distorting itself into a chubbier version of how it looked when it was first formed until it just becomes a white tunnel. You hate it when someone beats you to it, but there's a striking Leonard Cohen flair to the way DeCiccia sings and proceeds, but there's more Americana the way Shearwater does it in the music that backs it all up. It's a lush shaking that were it put into scent would smell smoky and cinnamon spicy. DeCiccia here puts on his other cap - one of his many day jobs to pay the never-ending bills. He is his alter ego Dr. Silverfoot, a balloon sculpter. For the role, DeCiccia wears his "everyday 18th century sideburns," a tuxedo, top hat, silver vest and silver ascot and goes about making swords and dragon hats and another whole multitude of creatures and contortions. He reminds in this self-penned reading that, "When bumblebees land on the tip of a pin, well, then they're the ones who get stung" as well as teaching the lesson that it's okay to love things (such as balloon animals) that someday aren't going to be there - either through popping accidents or deaths of other kinds. Come for the life lessons and stay for the sound effects provided by he and his Black Swans bandmates.
"The Black Swans":http://www.theblackswans.com