From his 12 years performing with Hot Toddy through two solo albums and a collaborative children’s record to his stellar new album The Fortunate Few, Thom Swift’s career has been all about evolution.
In the time since his 2008 debut Into The Dirt, Swift has earned three East Coast Music Awards, four Music Nova Scotia Awards, two Canadian Maple Blues awards and one Canadian Folk Music Award. Expect this tally to rise drastically when it comes time to award season.
The Fortunate Few is one of Swift’s most definitive musical statements to date. His songwriting comes from the heart and deals with subject matters that matter to him. Perhaps even more importantly, the general population will have little trouble identifying with Swift’s songs as well.
Performing as the opening act for Rosanne Cash at Moncton’s Capitol Theatre tonight, Swift took a little different of an approach when it came time to writing the songs contained on The Fortunate Few. Whereas the writing process for the songs on his previous albums were typically spread out over a year or more, Swift wrote his latest batch of songs over the course of one month.
“I had time to write the songs but also think about how they would cohesively fit onto the record as well,” Swift says. “Having a family, it is sometimes difficult to set aside the necessary time to disappear and get songs written. When it came to writing these songs, I would jump in the RV, drive 15 to 20 minutes outside of town, park somewhere beautiful and work there for the day.”
Swift says he feels as though changing up the writing process had an overall positive impact on the songs. Reviews of The Fortunate Few have been overwhelmingly positive with many writers glowing about Swift’s undeniable groove of roots and blues.
Positive reviews and artists following their heart do not always go hand in hand. In Swift’s case however, his genuine approach to songwriting only strengthens the end result.
“I have been seriously blown away by the response,” he says. “The reviews of the record have been over the top. I couldn’t be happier.”
With a new record of course comes the promotion and live shows to promote the new material. Swift is no stranger to the live stage and has, on average, been playing three to four shows a week since The Fortunate Few was released this past March. This has included shows in the Maritimes in addition to shows scattered throughout Quebec and Ontario.
“I am so humbled to work as much as I have been,” Swift says. “I tip my hat to the people that have been so generously supporting me.”
One of his likely supporters is none other than Rosanne Cash herself. The musical history of the Cash family is one that has left an indelible mark upon Swift.
“I think that anybody my age has probably put in their time with Johnny Cash while Rosanne is a stellar songwriter in her own right. But I think I identify with Rosanne because of where I am at in my life,” Swift says. “I am just trying to keep things on the level. No matter how famous these people are that I get to perform beside, they are just regular people like you and I at the end of the day. I’m simply humbled to be sharing the bill with her. Frankly, if I spend too much time thinking about the history behind the Cash name, I probably wouldn’t be able to do my job.”
Sharing that he anticipates promoting The Fortunate Few over the remainder of this year and the majority of next year, Swift is happy to work at virtually every opportunity he is given.
Of course, everyone needs a little break every now and then.
Figuring he was due for an uninterrupted week at home, Swift says that he was offered the opportunity to play Stanfest this weekend in Canso, Nova Scotia. He spoke to organizers, explaining that while he has been fortunate enough to perform at the renowned festival numerous times in the past, he figured that 2013 was as good of a year to abstain from playing the festival as any.
“The promoters behind Stanfest completely understood and supported my decision. I was planning on having the weekend off and then the shows supporting Rosanne Cash came through,” he laughs. “It is funny how it worked out. I guess it was meant to be that I was performing this weekend.”
Article published in the July 5, 2013 edition of the Times & Transcript