Swings & Heartaches Volume 2 is Lilly of the West’s 8th project, and an excellent one, building on the concept seen in Swings & Heartaches, released in 2011.
Lilly of the West is Lilly Drumeva on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, Yasen Vasilev on lead guitar, Michail Shishkov on Dobro, and Svoboda Bozduganova on upright bass, with Special Guests Pepa Malina on fiddle and Michal Barok on mandolin. Let’s get this out of the way: The musicianship and vocals on every track are top-tier.
The production values are evident in each track. Every track sounds just right. Excellence abounds in this latest effort, from the tri-fold packaging, and extensive liner notes which provide historical information for each song. The strength of the song selection is immediately apparent, with the newest song being written in the 1960s. Most are from the 1950s or prior, with the earliest being After You’ve Gone, written in 1917. This means that all these songs have stood the test of time, and that Lilly has provided us with a charming journey through time. Songs are divided into two categories – Swings, which are six lively acoustic updates of classics, and Heartaches, which are more serious ballads. Each song carries its weight delightfully – the Swings, and the Heartaches. At this stage, I must warn you that this collection of well-done classics is addictive. If you decide you just want to listen to one track, you will find you must hear the entire album.
Kudos to all the players, all of which excel on their instruments. Svoboda Bozduganova anchors the entire project with her beautiful walking bass lines, and even bowing occasionally. The lead guitar work of Yasen Vasilev is just right, and Michail Shishkov’s Dobro work is amazing. Lilly’s production has given us an imminently enjoyable, easy to listen to classic, which will sound just as good and fresh in 100 years as it does now. I would be hard pressed to pick a favorite track, but Seven Lonely Days sets the tone for delights to come, followed by Blues For Dixie, I’m Satisfied With You, Rock Salt & Nails, Mountain of Love, After You’ve Gone, Blue Skies, Dream a Little Dream of Me, Kansas City, and Miss the Mississippi and You. It would be a Sophie’s Choice to pick a least favorite, which would probably be Kansas City, but it would still be a favorite. This project just flows from track to track, with no disappointments.
Lilly has produced an intriguing and captivating work of art here, drawing on her extensive musical knowledge to craft a classic. She has roots in Bluegrass, Classic Country, Texas Swing, Americana, and Folk music, and it shows in her appreciation for the traditions of each.
I’m fortunate to have followed Lilly’s career for close to two decades, and this is her best project to date by far. As I have said, be careful when you choose this collection, you will be hooked from the first notes…
Jack Poston BlueGrassRootsTV, www.bgrtv.com