March 29, 2021. This Bitter Earth, Veronica Swift’s sophomore release from Mack Avenue Records, takes on issues of weighty social concern. Most everyone’s doing that now, it seems—and, hey, that’s probably a good thing. But the reason this album succeeds is because Swift was a preeminent vocal stylist before and still is.
Her musicality and mastery of the idiom’s idiosyncrasies at not even 27 years old is preternatural. Her reverence for this music’s history and her respect for its composers and lyricists asserts itself with every old show tune or standard she dusts off and makes devastatingly hip again (or for the first time).
Chops are chops, and she’s got them in spades—one listen to “You’re the Dangerous Type,” and you’ll quickly learn all you need to about Swift’s sheer athleticism as a vocalist.
What separates Swift is the same thing that separates that heady point guard you’ll invariably hear the announcers gushing over during every year’s NCAA basketball tournament telecast. “Son of a coach, just knows how to play the game.” And so it is with Swift: this daughter of jazz musicians (the late pianist Hod O’Brien and vocalist Stephanie Nakasian) just knows how to play…because, like that point guard, it’s been woven into the fabric of her personhood from the time she was a toddler. I don’t know her personally, but you can just tell.
These tunes—even the obscure ones, perhaps especially the more obscure ones—are like another appendage or,