I don’t know of too many artists who continually reach new heights with each album release, but Black Swan Lane are an exception to the rule. Formed from the ashes of The Messengers, the early albums included members of The Chameleons and The Sun & The Moon in their midst. Comparisons to The Chameleons were apt – Black Swan Lane excels in ethereal guitar work and haunting vocals that give power to the lyrics. The last few records found Black Swan Lane working with the core duo of Jack Sobel and John Kolbeck, leaving some of the connections to Manchester, England behind. It has made no impact on the quality of the records the band is putting out – each release feels like its own majestic universe. Under My Fallen Sky – the band’s first release since 2014 – continues the trend.
There is no 7th album jinx here – Black Swan Lane have delivered a record that is optimistic, questioning, and yet deeply imbued to the post punk sounds we’ve come to expect from the band. Melodies are strong, lyrics are deep – this really is another perfect album. On Your Command is an urgent number that features layered vocals and stunning bass work from Jerry Tew. The song reaches an emotional climax with the line “I can’t make you love me” – sung with just the right amount of emotion by Jack Sobel. Tracks 5 through 7 are – for me – the best middle of the album sequence that Black Swan Lane have ever done. It feels like a mini story smack dab in the middle of the album. Valentine feels like early U2, a mix of melody and angst giving way to some beautifully intricate guitar work from John Kolbeck & Jack Sobel. Trust is the flip side of the previous track – a dark atmosphere permeates throughout. “I don’t know how to trust you / So I make-believe“. Ouch. Revenge is the aftermath, the catharsis. Somewhat indebted to a girl group of the 60’s sound, this is another stunner. “My heart bleeds for revenge / So bring me back to life”. Turn is one of the songs that features backing vocals from Lauren Fay and Gretchen Copeland, and it works really well. It gives a nice contrast to Sobel’s deep voice. Lyrically, this is outstanding “I’m calling to you, don’t turn away / Can you carve me into what you want”. Uplifting and heartbreaking, all at once. The album ends with a slow burn of a tune, Behind Your Window. The song builds from an acoustic lament to a Phil Spector influenced wall of sound over the course of its 7 minute+ run time. A perfect album closer, one that leaves the listener wanting more.
In short, this is the finest Black Swan Lane release to date. The band is moving forward, forming an identity uniquely its own. You can follow the band on The Social Network and get the latest happenings via their website.
Verdict: “If God is 7…”
For Fans of: The Sound, The Red-Sided Garter Snakes, The Chameleons, U2, Kitchens of Distinction
- Stop To Smile
- On Your Command
- The Pain You Suffer Is Gone
- How Can I Know
- Interlude III
- Golden Black
- Sleepwalking In Someone Else’s Dreams
- A Walk In The Cold
- Behind Your Windows