Originally formed some years ago as a Django Reinhardt tribute band, Denmark’s String Swing plays on with only two of its founder members on hand (Søren Siegumfeldt and Jacob Fischer). The band is joined here by Meschiya Lake, who came to the attention of Siegumfeldt (and a wide audience) through her appearance in a documentary film about post-Katrina New Orleans.
Five of the 11 tracks are compositions by Siegumfeldt and Lake, including My Dear U.S. Of A., which is about the threat of mass shootings, and Stormy Daniels, a song about… Well, you know who (and what). There are two other original compositions by Siegumfeldt, one for which he wrote the lyrics and one with lyrics by Shel Silverstein. Other songs are Everybody Knows, by Leonard Cohen and Sharon Robinson, Lungs, by Townes Van Zandt, Because I Got High by Afroman, and Up Jumped The Devil by Nick Cave. Clearly, the themes range widely, including domestic and international unrest in so many places today, drug addiction and political corruption.
Despite the subject matter of the lyrics, the playing of String Swing is bright and swinging, the instrumentalists, notably Siegumfeldt and Fischer, playing with verve. Lake’s singing is direct and immediately attractive, her vocal sound clear yet edgy. That last quality is especially well suited to those lyrics which speak of critical issues in society today.
Please don’t be deterred by the sometimes grim socio-political undertones, because there is a lot to like aurally here. That there is also much to think about outside the music, is no bad thing. The liner includes the lyrics of all the original songs. Heard on CD, this release is also available in LP format, STULP 19061.
Everybody Knows; A House In Encinitas; Up Jumped The Devil; The Search; Lungs; Stormy Daniels; Wait Until Fall; Because I Got High; My Dear U.S. Of A.; A Bull In China; Elephants (42.17)
Meschiya Lake (v) with String Swing: Søren Siegumfeldt (as, ts, bar; fl); Peter Rosendal (elp); Jacob Fischer (g); Finn Poulsen (g, hca); Kasper Tagel (b); Morten Ærø (d). Guests: Bjørn Ingelstam (t); Ole Fessor Lindgreen (tb); Henrik Silver (sousa); Peter Fuglsang (cl); Thomas Hass (ss); Moslem Rahal (f); Arto Louis Eriksen (vib, pc); Mingus Alan Eriksen (tamb). Copenhagen, 4 July 2018.
Stunt STUCD 19062