Australian born songwriter Emma Swift, is set to release her new album Blonde On The Tracks – a reimagining of some of her favourite Bob Dylan songs on 14th August on Tiny Ghost Records. The album features a few guest appearances including from Robyn Hitchcock, Thayer Serrano, and Jon Estes.
The record was born out of crisis, a fact Swift doesn’t deny: “The idea for the album came about during a long depressive phase, the kind where it’s hard to get out of bed and get dressed and present to the world as a high-functioning human. I was lost on all fronts no doubt, but especially creatively.”
She continues to say “I’ve never been a prolific writer, but this period was especially wordless. Sad, listless and desperate, I began singing Bob Dylan songs as a way to have something to wake up for. Interpreting other people’s emotions is how I learned to sing and I’ve always enjoyed hearing Dylan’s songs from a female perspective. You can learn a lot about melody and feeling by the way a singer chooses to interpret someone else’s song. You can learn alot about words by singing someone else’s. I’m very influenced by singers like Sandy Denny, Joan Baez, Billie Holiday, Sinead O’Connor. There’s an art to interpretation – and for me – these women are the masters. I’m as indebted to them on this record as I am to Bob Dylan.”
With a voice both heartbreaking and heartbroken, she brings this strength and beauty to the album. Many artists have recorded their takes on Dylan, some fairly faithful, but another kind of successful cover takes a song apart and rebuilds it with a different sensibility. Her “reimagining” brings a balancing gentleness….clear and soft where he might rasp; plaintive and emotive where he might be more sanguine and also feeling just as true to the song itself, with no cognitive dissonance felt from experiencing a woman singing his words.
Check out the animated lyric video for I Contain Multitudes, with moving images that playfully illustrate some of the references in the lyrics, and a sweetness that captures the essence of Swift’s delivery.
Order the album here.