to release Blonde On The Tracks
(produced by Patrick Sansone)
out 14th August on Tiny Ghost Records
Australian born songwriter Emma Swift, is set to release her new album Blonde On The Tracks – a reimagining of some of her favourite Bob Dylan songs on 14th August on Tiny Ghost Records. The album is produced by Patrick Sansone of Wilco, and features guest appearances from Robyn Hitchcock, Patrick Sansone, Thayer Serrano, Jon Estes, Jon Radford & the ghosts of Magnetic Sound Studio.
An Emma Swift performance can bring you to the edge of tears – her voice is both heartbreaking and heartbroken and she brings this strength and beauty to Blonde On The Tracks. Many artists have recorded their takes on Dylan, some fairly faithful, but another kind of successful cover takes a song apart and rebuilds it with a different sensibility. Emma’s “reimagining” brings a balancing gentleness….clear and soft where he might rasp; plaintive and emotive where he might be more sanguine and also feeling just as true to the song itself, with no cognitive dissonance felt from experiencing a woman singing his words.
The recording of Swift’s vocal on “I Contain Multitudes,” the first single, is so immediate and clean that it’s almost as if you feel her breath in your ear. It’s striking in its intimacy, especially as heard during this time of communal isolation.
“Like many of the great Bob Dylan songs, “I Contain Multitudes” is a magnet, a fly’s eye view of the cultural miasma in which we wander. It’s magnificent and heartbreaking, a love letter to words and art and music, to all that has been lost and that all that might be redeemed.” explains Emma. ” To me this song, released by Dylan just two months ago, has become an obsession, a mantra, a prayer. I can’t hope to eclipse it, all I hope to do is allow more people to hear it, to feel comforted by it, and to love it the way I do.”
The song’s animated lyric video is the perfect accompaniment, with moving images that playfully illustrate some of the references in the lyrics, and a sweetness that captures the essence of Emma’s delivery.
Nashville is proud of its place in the Dylan legacy, and here’s another chapter. The sound of “Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands” as one fine example, harkens back to the days when Dylan himself recorded here. Other tracks flash back to The Band days. The masterful production by Patrick Sansone (Wilco) provides the perfect light touch to support the vocals without overtaking them, and the album includes ringing Rickenbackers, steel guitar, and other instrumentation by some of the finest Nashville has to offer these days, including guitar by resident Dylanologist Robyn Hitchcock.
Though the record began at Magnetic Sound Studio in Nashville in 2017, it was the COVID-19 lockdown that brought the final project to fruition, with Emma working with producer Patrick Sansone via email to finesse songs in the vault. “I Contain Multitudes” and “Simple Twist of Fate” were recorded in April and May this year at home and overdubbed via correspondence.
The record was born out of crisis, a fact Swift doesn’t deny: “The idea for the album came about during a long depressive phase, the kind where it’s hard to get out of bed and get dressed and present to the world as a high-functioning human. I was lost on all fronts no doubt, but especially creatively.”
She continues to say “I’ve never been a prolific writer, but this period was especially wordless. Sad, listless and desperate, I began singing Bob Dylan songs as a way to have something to wake up for. Interpreting other people’s emotions is how I learned to sing and I’ve always enjoyed hearing Dylan’s songs from a female perspective. You can learn a lot about melody and feeling by the way a singer chooses to interpret someone else’s song. You can learn alot about words by singing someone else’s. I’m very influenced by singers like Sandy Denny, Joan Baez, Billie Holiday, Sinead O’Connor. There’s an art to interpretation – and for me – these women are the masters. I’m as indebted to them on this record as I am to Bob Dylan.”