Seth Swirsky is a self-described “manic expressive,” an American pop music songwriter (including the Grammy-nominated “Tell It To My Heart”), an author, a recording artist, a filmmaker, a political writer and a noted baseball memorabilia collector. In 1980, at the age of 20, Seth Swirsky wrote the national jingle for Thomas’ English Muffins. After graduating from Dartmouth College in 1982, Swirsky wrote the Grammy-nominated hit “Tell It To My Heart” with Ernie Gold for Taylor Dayne.
Jumping ahead, “Circles And Squares” is his latest in a list of such projects resulting in his third solo album. Pop music, baseball and politics doing all their best to round out what is already a deep musical background is not a bad thing unless you do not like all of that and see it taking way from the situation somehow. For Seth Swirsky it just keeps him going after all the years he’s put into his career(s). This is not some come lately to the scene, but not trying to engulf it either. He’s laid down some humble stuff for this solo disc. He’s done it all and tends to express about it in places where it counts in the music. And I will highlight some of that, as it is a prolific album with many songs, beginning with the soothing sounds of “Shine” leading off with the best of intentions, as it delivers a first class way to start any pop album. I could go on about this song but keeping it short and sweet is also an emotion it breeds. This is well followed-up by such songs as “Circles And Squares” itself, and “Old Letter,” “Far Away,” and “Let’s Get Married” (which features some great guitar and piano licks). These are all greatly sung as well, and go through a lot of themes that travel within the pop parameters. And then there is the lovely sound of “Trying To Keep It Simple,” featuring a decent hook that covers the Beatles in the lyrics, and carries on about letting life happen without keeping up with the distractions. This is one of the highlights of the CD, and a great song. It falls somewhere between the two energy systems the songs are full of. Melodic and simple, but layered and complex on the same coin. This is well contrasted in the next song, “I Loved Last Night,” which is a perfect example of how the speed varies and also how little things can actually make a song. The guitar playing in this nice piece speaks for all of that. “Belong” steps it up as it relies more heavily on vocal factors with a memorable melody to hold it together. This is light sounding but leaves more to be discovered in the lyrics. It just flows like a feather in the breeze, as where the next song “Sonic Ferris Wheel” does that and much more. This is a very unique song with its share of tempo changes that add all the more, but it’s mostly the horns and the storytelling approach that wins here. It comes and goes quickly but manages to keep interest as it goes into the more vocal oriented “Let’s Move To Spain.” Now this is yet another interesting song, but with a stripped back acoustic approach. He gets romantic without being too boring or serious. And it’s just entertaining the way this is done. There is nothing contrived about it. By the time you get this far it is obvious that he knows exactly what he wants within the pop structure he is clearly going for. “The Simplest Way” helps explain it all, but again there is a lot underlying in the message. You only get to that place through a lot of experience as you try to perfect pop songwriting. It builds in the heart and goes from there. “Table” is yet another gem that is arrived at by the lyrics, but there is a striking cross melody that moves it right along. It describes a table going from empty to full. The guitar in this is very reminiscent of the Beatles, or more accurately the great Bobby Parker who they nicked from for one of their more popular songs. This has been so many times before, but it has Swirsky’s added stamp which does not disgrace. But if you don’t recognize it, that is what carrying on their tradition and remaining original is all about. Either way it’s never a bad aspect to compliment the Beatles and whoever influenced them. “With Her Now” is probably the most ballad oriented song on the record, as he attempts to combine softness with the pain of missing someone. It’s very short and to the point, but once again he makes a strong statement. That is already a lot to say about such a short song. But it gets through with the best on offer here. And then there is so much more to describe about “I Don’t Have Anything (If I Don’t Have You),” as he really goes the distance to share things he has between baseball and gold records, and how they mean nothing with someone to share it with. I won’t give away anymore of this, but It comes as recommended as any song on “Circles and Squares.”
If you enjoy anything about it, you should like this song in particular. All the while, going out with songs like “Abyss” and “I Think Of Here,” are not a bad way to take the set out, with the former getting most of the credit, but the latter not being a bad way to wrap up the album. It takes you back to the beginning and reminds you that Swirsky still shines in his own light.
Read Seth’s Blog: http://www.seth.com/sethblogarchives/blog/index.html