By Michael Grondin
All My Favorite Singers Are Willie Nelson is the debut album from Astral Swans, the indie singer/songwriting from Calgary’s Matt Swann. Most music by “singer/songwriters” falls flat due to overdone clichés, pretentions and delusions of self-greatness. However, the music of Astral Swans is honest, forthcoming and simple, void of any pretentiousness whatsoever.
What you get with All My Favorite Singers Are Willie Nelson are straightforward, and sometimes dark, lyrics that any neurotic person — or anyone with feelings — can empathize with, pieced together by real-life experience and a truthfulness in Swann’s quivering, yet punctual voice.
The 12 songs on this album barely reach more than three minutes long. And it’s not just a guy with a guitar. Interesting percussion and swooning synthesizers surprisingly show up, filling any gaps in the reverbed and distorted guitar.
Getting through this album in one go is extremely difficult — hearing the strange, yet catchy compositions in Swann’s words bring an urge to repeat and rewind many of the songs. This is due to the catchy melodies and choruses that also bring an immediate urge to sing along. On a critical note, many of the chord progressions did sound similar from song to song.
Astral Swans looks at his emotions and conscience through a begrudging lens, but the music is refreshing and speaks to feelings we’ve all felt without the right words to describe them.All My Favorite Singers Are Willie Nelson, Astral Swans