Album Review

The Black Swans "Don't Blame the Stars"

Megan Torelli
When the Black Swans were finished writing their fifth record, released May 31st, Don't Blame The Stars, they must have sat down and listened to each song and put each one of them in order, and before a chosen few, spoke a few sentences describing in quiet sentiment exactly what the song was purported to mean, out loud, as if the listener was hearing a voice inside his own head, and then mapped each thought to meet its conclusion- that the world was a mess, but “Don't Blame The Stars”, you could always get a doctor to prescribe you a dose of Lithium, and then realize later that you didn't quite need that “Mean Medicine”, - that it was the “Little Things” that made life grand... at least that is what I like to think the Black Swans were thinking ,when they pulled this soon-to-be-released album together, after wiping away the dust that had formed since founding member and violinist Noel Sayre died in July of 2008. The songs seemed to mean a bit more since Sayre had passed, although it had been recorded a few months before, in Columbus, Ohio, where the band was formed. They were meant to be about contemplation of the self and finding one's own self, but after Sayre's passing, they seemed to have a deeper meaning. The sentences spoken before a few of the songs, such as before “Sunshine Street” and “Joe Tex”, or the dry humor of “Worry Stone” seem like thoughts sounded out loud, or a conversation with someone who may or may not be there after all. The invisible audience. My favorite on the album, however, both spoken and musically, is “Little Things”, however. The lines that front man Jerry DeCicca proclaims gives him hope when he wakes up with “the blues”- barbeques, even peeing outside- the strangest things that will make you envision your own hope when it seems that nothing is left to hold on to.. and you realize that life isn't so bad- that its the smallest things that make life worth living through. While I was not fully impressed with the music in every song on this album-most albums do have their strong and weak points- I definitely was impressed with the way the violin seemed to seep in from the background into the forefront and make itself heard and then dissipate into barely-discernible noise- it was hypnotic, and breathtaking. Sayre's amazing playing will take hold of the listener and shake them into cognition even from beyond the grave. The echo of “Blue Bayou” left me thinking of classier times and songs in simpler days, with a 50's doo-wop sound. Altogether... I was impressed with the strange cohesiveness of the album itself, and how it came as a whole.. it could have been sloppy... but it was not. The songs and the premonition-like words fit together like glue. So next time I am sick of the way things are going, I will stop shaking my fist at the sky, and I will try not to blame the stars, and remind myself not to forget the little things in life.. and I will reach for this album. I suggest you do the same. Don't forget. I'll try not to.