Swaying Wires – Some Blue Sky Album Review

Swaying Wires is an alternative folk/rock band based in Turku, Finland.

What began as a one woman project by Tina Kärkinen in 2008 developed into a full band in 2010 with members Sami Lehtonen and Nicklas Hägen.

After a playing as a trio for a while, performing around Turku, the band finally found a drummer in Timo Harju. The newly formed quartet subsequently started recording some demo songs that would later form the nucleus of their debut album. Harju left the band shortly after the recording of these demos to pursue other interests. He was replaced by Jussi Virkkumaa who had previously played in another band together with Sami.

In the summer of 2012, Swaying Wires started recording what would become their first full-length album, Some Blue Sky. The album is a collection of songs written between 2008 to 2013 and was recorded in the band’s rehearsal space.

March 2014 will see the culmination of this work when the band releases their debut, Some Blue Sky, through Battle Worldwide Recordings.

Previous release Blinding Nights starts the album. Blinding Nights is a slow, sad and folk influenced number with incredibly feminine and soulful vocals. Blinding Nights is almost a ballad as Kärkinen’s vocals sore and express all her emotions. The music takes a back seat on this song with the drums laying down the rhythm very quietly in the background and the guitar riffs rising and falling appropriately to capture those emotions portrayed in Kärkinen’s vocals. Her voice is mesmerisingly calm and beautiful despite being able to express angst and upset.

Then the seductive second track Bluebird is introduced. The acoustic guitar breaks this song in so gently. It’s such a tender song, the vocals are once again clear, crisp and calming. Kärkinen has a marvellous voice which is perfect for this band’s sound. The music is swooping; the drums emphasise certain notes while the guitar plays softly in the background allowing it all to create a sense of calmness which is complemented by the angelic vocals. This all happens before the music picks up. The guitar becomes distorted and grungy. It becomes heavily chord-based leaving the riffs behind. The frequency of the notes increases which builds the drama and dynamics in this track.

Take Me To The River has melancholy lyrics which start the track, “Take me to the river see if I float/Hold my head under water…” The music is quite dark and dramatic too. The drums are sparse and the  continuous notes on the bass create a sense of tension. There’s a sense of someone being unsettled and nervous and a sense that someone else is after them. The music slowly builds with more guitar riffs and harsher drums being introduced.

The fourth track introduces a much calmer track in Scattering. Scattering has Blues influences and the slide guitar creates surfer tones. It has a very slow tempo in comparison to the other tracks. The slide guitar is accompanied by a softly played acoustic guitar and haunting and full deep bass notes. The vocals take centre stage here, the music is kept simple to allow this, “It’s your line to draw/It’s your line to draw/You keep building walls around you still/It’s your cross to bear/Your cross to bear still…” Kärkinen’s voice is so seductive; it’s quirky and innocent yet it has an air of sexiness about it. It’s such a soft voice that it hints at naivety on first listen but with the words that she is singing, it becomes clear that she is anything but. She’s confident, passionate and head strong. This track is atmospheric; there are crashing cymbals, synthesised haunting sounds and accordion key sounds. Scattering is the best track on album. It’s as close to perfect as you can get. It has everything; strong emotionally inspired lyrics, angelic yet emotionally invoking vocals, dynamic instrumentation and great acoustics.

No Cards Left stays in tune with the calmer tracks on the record. It’s a very solemn number which is dishearteningly sombre yet appealing. The music is almost non-existent in this song. The acoustic guitar is accompanied by Kärkinen’s vocals and the odd bass note but nothing else. No Cards Left conjures up images of deserted country lands covered in fog and mist. It has that sort of feel to it.

Unusually, an accordion starts the next track, Willow And Wind. Willow And Wind is unusually uplifting in comparison to the previous songs on the album. The accordion is gradually joined by string instrumentation which all seep away eventually for the familiar acoustic guitar to take over, “Made my way through the pines/Where the sun don’t ever shine/Found a friend in the night/Walking aimless under city lights/There you’ll find me once again/Walking backwards on the finishing line/No-one wins in these streets…” Willow And Wind has a ballad pop song feel to it. The lyrics are depressing but the strings in the instrumentation give this song an uplifting, inspirational feel. The whole song is about finding pleasure in nature, “Birds will sing/Long hereafter/This old town is withered and gone…”

Passing Through introduces a jazzy pop feel to the album; if you think Paolo Nutini in the early days you’re nearly there. The drums give this track a good rhythm producing a happy, walking beat. Passing Through has a summery feel to it. The guitar riff that accompanies the drums and the “Who-oo let the door fall…” vocals gives it a strong summer feeling. Passing Through is soothing, it conjures up images of hazy summer evenings spent in fields in the country.

Fear Of Flying has been previously released. Fear Of Flying is a wonderful, blissful folk song which features angelic, breath-taking vocals from Kärkinen. Kärkinen’s vocals will send a shiver down your spine; her range is explored and her notes cascade over the acoustic guitar perfectly. The music is basic but this has a greater effect letting the beautiful lyrics take centre stage, “After all that’s all it was/A fear of flying/As I finally stagger out/I will make it home somehow/I’ll meet you there/Keep a brave face/As the sky falls/Into pieces down before you/And the ground below you…When the storm arrives/I’ll meet you there”.

Brings Me Home is atmospheric as Swaying Wires have combined the noises of nature in to this track. There’s a fuzzing noise heard in the recording and outside sounds such as birds tweeting and waves crashing on the shore. All these things add to make this song feel very real and perfect. The lyrics are lovely, “Hundred miles from turning back this time/One true sign those highway eyes of yours/Bring me home in the night/Bring me home in the night/Bring me home in to the night/Bring me home…” The song suddenly explodes after these lyrics are heard for the first time. The music is full and energetic and the vocals are once again outstanding, showing off Kärkinen’s range.

The title track Some Blue Sky unusually appears as the last song on the album. It brings a solemn tone back to the record after a few more uplifting numbers, “Quietly watching shadows disappear/Always waiting for no voice to call my name/Biding my time here my name’s on every…” Some Blue Sky as a title suggests this album tells the story of torment, angst and uncertainty (hence the dark tones and sad lyrics that appear more frequently than happy songs throughout the record) while Swaying Wires wait for ‘Some Blue Sky’ to encapsulate them and brighten their lives.

Some Blue Sky is an incredibly solid debut album. There isn’t a bad song on this record. There’s not one song that makes you think, ‘Not sure about that’. Each song expands their abilities, shows their influences and most importantly, proves they are a fantastic alternative folk band with lots to offer.

Swaying Wires’ album Some Blue Sky will be released on March 31 via Battle Worldwide Recordings.

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