Often times, a very good way to expose yourself to new artists is to select a band that you like, find out who produced a particular record that you enjoy and follow it through down the rabbit hole of great music. In this case, with Richard Swift, there is a lot to enjoy. Not only was Swift the bass player for The Black Keys and the drummer for Dan Auerbach’s side piece band The Arcs, he also twirled the knobs as producer for Foxygen, Kevin Morby, and Damien Jurado, all great acts that we have been following over the last couple of years.
In addition to his production work, Richard put out a series of solo records that never really resonated with the mainstream although they were all nuanced gems with the best of the lot, Dressed Up For The Letdown, a stone cold masterpiece. Released in 2007, the record features stellar songwriting that would Do Randy Newman Proud, Pop sensibilities that would make Paul McCartney envious, and a production effort worthy of Burt Bacharach. Full of self-deprecating songs including the title track along with “P.S. It All Falls Down,” and “The Songs of National Freedom” the record pretty much lays out front and center an artist that is suffering from depression along with the dependencies and addictions that come from trying to self-medicate the disease. The lyric “I made my way into the spotlight/Just to realize it’s not what I want,” pretty much describes the state of mind in play when this record was made.
Unfortunately on July 3, 2018 Richard Swift passed away. His family released a statement saying the musician’s demise had been due to “complications from hepatitas, as well as liver and kidney distress.” Thankfully, a genius of a musical legacy was behind as Swift wraps things up quite nicely on the song A&R Man. “My name will go missing but the songs’ll be here.”