Brooke Waggoner - Sweven - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Brooke Waggoner - Sweven

by James Weiskittel Rating:8 Release Date:2016-01-15

Sometimes the best part of an ‘A-list’ artist putting together a backing band (whether it be for touring, recording, or both) is that it typically gives (long overdue) exposure to countless musicians whose careers have otherwise fallen on deaf ears. 

Case in point: Brooke Waggoner.  Perhaps most well known as the ivory tickler from Jack White's tremendously successful pair of solo albums, Waggoner has actually been making records for years.  And on her latest effort (and fourth proper LP overall) Sweven, Waggoner eschews the oh-so-obvious 'girl with a piano' vibe, choosing instead to show off a much more grandly orchestrated artistic vision.

Sweven starts with a rather confident strut by way of “Fink”, with its bed of processed drums and piano providing the perfect vehicle for Waggoner’s impassioned vocals.  The album’s defacto single, ‘Widow Maker”, is a brilliantly infectious two-minute romp, while “Egg Shells” does an admiral job displaying Waggoner’s piano chops.

Waggoner opted for the 'everything, AND the kitchen sink' approach when it came time to record Sweven, and the results actually pay off: a little distorted drums here, a tripped out horn-section there, (all awash in fuzzed out keys and guitars) and it's hard to believe that at the core of each song is a killer piano performance.

And that really is where Sweven shines the most.  There isn’t anything here that hasn’t been heard before, mind you, but Brooke Waggoner somehow manages to meld together an impressive number disparate sounds and genres throughout the album's songs.  Her vocals range from a wispy to a snarling and while each song is still centered around her voice and piano, the proverbial devil lies within the album’s lush and detailed atmosphere, continuously rewarding repeated listens.

The album’s closer “The Splitting of Yourself in Two” features the album’s most confessional moment; where when Waggoner sings “I will never understand you, for you crossed into the other side”, one can’t help but wonder who it is she is actually speaking to.

With an album that recalls the likes of Tori Amos (at her peak with the daring From the Choir Girl Hotel) and the genre bending St. Vincent, Brooke Waggoner's Sweven is an incredible album, somehow managing to provide a fresh take the tried ('tired'?) and true singer-songwriter formula.  Leave any and all reservations or pre-conceived notions (by way of Jack White) at the door, Sweven is the real deal.

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Excellent review

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