They don’t come much more talented than Courtney Swain.
From the moment you hear her powerful voice, you know something good is about to happen. Well, you don’t get to attend and excel at the Berklee College of Music for nothing. And this talent level cannot and should not be ignored.
My first Courtney moment came by way of Bent Knee, where she is the primary vocalist and keyboard player. She and her five cohorts met at Berklee, formed a bond, and ultimately gave birth to a band that travels comfortably in the progressive rock circles, but really doesn’t fit that particular label. Come to think of it, they don’t really fit neatly into ANY genre label, which is a good part of why the band is wondrous. I was actually hearing songs from their second album, Shiny Eyed Babies. But there was no sophomore slump here. This band had found its collective voice, starting with Swain’s vocals.
But Courtney’s musical world doesn’t revolve solely around the band. She has also managed to churn out a lovely collection of solo albums, each feeling a bit more emotional than the last. They are well worth exploring and can be found on her Bandcamp page. The latest, Augustine, is due for release, coincidentally, August 19.
The album displays Courtney doing what she does best: bearing her musical soul vocally (often in multiple layers) over a lush layer of keyboards and the inventive production of Vince Welch. Chances are, you’ll be most of the way through the recording before you notice the lack of percussion. That absence is good in this case, because it gives Courtney’s voice room to reach its full abilities, making it easy to lose yourself in what is being presented.
On a personal level, Courtney is approachable and affable, but one can sense the inner shyness that seems to be prevalent amongst the best artists. It’s a sense of humility that makes her abilities that much more admirable. I can only wonder if she’d mention being a musician in a casual conversation away from a music venue.
This chat was recorded before the last Bent Knee tour. I’d like to thank Courtney Swain for being a good sport and taking part in this CirdecSongs interview.
Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (cirdecsongs) My book, I Can’t Be the Only One Hearing This: A Lifetime of Music Through Eclectic Ears, is available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other fine book dealers. I’m currently working on my next book, The Wizard of WOO: The Life and Music of Bernie Worrell.
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