Swirl – The Lift

Swirl are experienced hands in the hard rock game who, arguably, are reaching their peak as musical unit finally having hit upon the right lineup and presentation to best satisfy their musical desires. Their new single “The Lift” is the band’s first release since their contributions to the Ditch Day soundtrack garnered them a tremendous amount of attention in the summer of 2017. Swirl’s approach is likely welcomed by most fans for the same reason I embrace it – the four piece delivers a recognizable style, hard rock, with ample skill, soul, a discernible message, and a thoroughly modern sound that doesn’t rely on retro aspects to win over an audience. Their time providing live support to top tier hard rock acts like Ratt, Skid Row, and Red Dragon Cartel has undoubtedly further honed their presentation, live shows, and the overall quality of their songwriting. It’s easy to do hard rock by numbers and provoke some sort of reaction in listeners. It’s a much different proposition to create hard rock that doesn’t content itself with the same old tropes and formulas, instead endeavoring to say something personal and positive for their audience.

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“The Lift” is well in keeping with much of the band’s material in the way that the lyrical content has an affirmative, upbeat message for listeners. Alfred Ramirez is an ideal front man for the lyrics as he belts them out with a combination of full throttle rock attitude and a surprising thoughtful soulfulness close to bluesier roots. There’s definitely a danger with this sort of material that the lyrics come off as cheesy or stilted, but Swirl is never affected by that with this song because the same lean economy we hear in the musical arrangement is communicated, as well, through the lyrical content. Ramirez is a big difference maker on this tune, as well, thanks to the serious phrasing he gives these words and with some dramatic qualities that are never overplayed.

The guitar work crackles, primarily centered on that main guitar lick Duane “D.T.” Jones whips up for this release, and has tremendous interplay with his brother Brian Jones’ drumming. Shane Carlson pairs up nicely with the other two players without ever attempting to draw attention to himself D.T. Jones avoids much of the flash we’ve heard from earlier Swirl tunes and it’s impossible to tell if this is a direction they intend pursuing in earnest, but it definitely works for this song. He does take some lead breaks and they show off his skill, but it’s never laden with the overwrought and often times masturbatory excesses many of his peers embrace. “The Lift” has a powerhouse sound, but there’s plenty of nuance packed into the tune as well, and it shows the band still developing after a long time in the music world. They have found their stride and they haven’t even reached their peak.

William Elgin