Sierra Swan on Unknown Sundays

 

It was 2006 when I was introduced to Sierra Swan, through the album Ladyland. which showcases the tutelage that can sometimes be bestowed by the most unlikely rockers (in this case Linda Perry). Before the moment of her blessed union with Linda Perry, she recorded a track with the Black Eyed Peas (an interesting side note, as well as her dad being a musician that played with Kris Kristofferson). The voice I heard was astonishingly original, erotic, and developed emotionally with a hint of Tori Amos-style piano and lyrical delivery, which immediately drew me in.

Linda Perry has a genuine gift for conceptual development of a musicians, as well as collaborative songwriting and album production maestro. The band that had first introduced me to her, 4-Non Blondes, might be at the top of the most disappointing moments in rock-n-roll sophomore albums.  Why you ask? Well, because it never happened.  Bigger, Better, Faster, More! was just easy swallow, having a blast, rock-pop-n-roll that deserved a follow up record.  It’s unknown why, suddenly, so many years later, I was drawn to Sierra Swan, not knowing the background, or the lurking guise, missing from the scene, talents of Ms. Linda Perry,  But, all good musicians and producers find their way to each other and projects of brilliance. This I can be certain, as a traveller of the music multiverse that goes beyond the single, beyond the cover, and into the guts and thank yous of an entire record.

Sierra Swan actually released records in consecutive years from 2007 – 2009, which you can definitely have a good time working through, as they slide from piano and guitar driven, dramatic and emotional levels of adult alternative. Like, 2007’s Coward, which has a cover that makes you think Courtney Love, but is really a triumphant release of tension from the six song recording,  starting with a stripped down guitar title song and continues intimately with the two instruments she is most comfortable with.  There was little production, when you think back to the first record–that was for sure. Queen of the Valley moved back into the bigger production–and in some cases moved a bit beyond that, especially when you’re recalling “Sex is Keeping Us Together” and “Distraction.”  A clever departure with a lot of playful parts.  They are hard albums to find, as I have had no success in used bins.

Then comes The Girl Who Cried Wolf, which begins with Sierra Swan reminding you just how prolific and lyrically savvy she can be (as if she might have been the younger sister of Fiona Apple).  And, like her early producer, she finds something–well someone–Carina Round (whom we might have to discuss in another article) that invigorates and adds composition to the record. Again–musicians find their way to each other, right!?  She appears twice on the record, lending her voice and creativity to the landscape of Sierra’s best album start to finish.

Now married and holding her own sessions with a family, one can understand a break in the dedication. We can certainly appreciate the depth of attention that is required as well as the amount of money to make such endeavors for a self produced artist without record contracts.  However, that has not stopped Sierra Swan, in fact, the impact values of social media and that lovely site called PledgeMusic have afforded her the ability to reach out directly to her fan base and beyond to kindle the 2014 recording, Good Soldier, which–remember–musicians, producers find each other, right?!  Yep!  This album was produced by Smashing Pumpkin’s Billy Corgan.  There are a lot of heavy kudos for this album, and it certainly found its way to another level of respect for this artist and her voice, and this video attached for “Emotional” is a visual testimony to the legitimacy of this particular work of musical art.

It’s unknown how talents of different and non-popularity rise to meet and collaborate with each other, but be certain that they do–and they have such wonderful affects–effects on the creative complex that is “the making of sound.”  Indulge yourself in Sierra Swan, Linda Perry, Carina Round, Smashing Pumpkins, Billy Corgan, and you will find others within the sleeves of production, background singing, or even song-writing to lead you further on into the music-multiverse.

 

SPECIAL ARCHIVE POSTING NOTE

Sierra Swan Albums in my collection:  Ladyland (2006)

This “Unknown Sundays” was done back on August 7th, 2016, and that was almost a decade after I had heard Ladyland.  I was listening to the Good Soldier album, which was produced by Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins, a little bit, but I had seen Sierra Swan perform at Nietzsche’s in Buffalo, NY with opening act Mozella.  I always thought that Ms. Swan had everything a record company could want in a musician; talent, enbolding command of her art, multi-instrument for cheaper production costs, and unique song writing. With Ladyland really not really catching on, that debut album probably made it impossible to get beyond.  I realize that she still is making recordings to this day (that’s right — I believe the new album System Breaker releases next week – our timing is awesome) that it is a good run still considering.  A major record label deal, touring with Smashing Pumpkins, and then going self-production with wonderful backing from Corgan is a very decent, on-going career.  And, with a voice like hers as Billy Corgan states “the most pure I’ve ever heard,” she’s going to find another showcase in music multiverse, exposing her to a brand new, adaptive, smart audience!  But, for now, this is a talented rabbit hole to dive into, I assure you.   – Mark Kuligowski  [October 8, 2023]

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