The Black Swans Who Will Walk in the Darkness With You?

[Delmore Recordings; 2004]

Styles: sadcore, slowcore, alt folk, indie rock
Others: Cowboy Junkies, Nick Drake, Mark Eitzel, Tindersticks, Leonard Cohen

Slow, sad folksongs are singer-songwriter Jerry DeCicca's stock in trade. His debut record as the Black Swans, Who Will Walk in Darkness With You?, is filled with ambling ballads, sung by DeCicca in a dolorous but understated baritone. Guitarist Milan Karcic, bassist Matt Surgeson, and drummer Jovan Karcic provide a slowcore, dreamy backdrop, while violinist Noel Sayre adds a pivotal textural layer, his fiddling exuding a poignant melancholy that is often achingly lovely. But if the album suffers from anything, it is the certain relentlessness in its deliberate and gradual pacing; then again, most sadcore suffers from similar "adagio blues." It would be interesting to hear the Black Swans play one song more quickly, even just midtempo, to see if they could transcend the lazy and hazy aural tapestry that overwhelms the rest of their oeuvre. While confined to the dark spectrum, there is an array of textural colors present, supplied by deftly placed single-note guitar punctuations, gentle percussion fills, and arching violin lines. While the similarity of tempo and demeanor leaves the album seeming seamless, certain songs are particularly fine. The title track's strong hook is memorable, as is the fragile delicacy of "The Raft," wherein DeCicca's singing takes on a hushed cast, accompanied by arpeggiated guitars and a pianissimo halo of violin. The Black Swan's music may banish the sun, but I'd prefer Who Will Walk in Darkness With You? to most records as rainy day music.

1. Who Will Walk in Darkness With You?
2. Blue Skies
3. Honest Eyes
4. Song Without You
5. The Raft
6. Hours Never End
7. Black Swan Blues
8. Days are Long
9. Rocks in my Shoes
10. Bring You Down