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Band Folk Singer/Songwriter


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"Top 100 Albums of 2007"

'I'll Be New' feels like a genuine musical experience just like they used to make 'em in the old days. A voice and a guitar recorded live in the studio, a backing piano and a little bit of electronics which really add to the atmosphere, and you have a record that feels like that old pair of sneakers that you won't wear out anymore but still keep to wear around the house because they're so comfortable and friendly. There is pain and heartbreak in these lyrics, of course, as there usually is in the music that comes straight from the heart, but the soft hush of the remarkably sharp and evocative lyrics and the occasional foot-tapping moment like the wonderful 'The Devil & I' make for a truly enjoyable experience and an album you'll return to more times than you might think at first.
- Jose Carlos Santos

"Debut Release from New label"

Not too surprisingly, Rich Swanger’s debut as Seahorse stalks the same paths as Hungry, effectively cementing a niche for the Bric-A-Brac label with its pair of debut releases. I’ll Be New is an even more temperate release than its partner, however, with the result being a kinship with artists whose works are similarly restrained: Josh Ritter, Ron Sexsmith, Mark Eitzel. It is a more pastoral sound, one more openly connected to Americana and folk influences like early Neil Young records.

On “The Twirling, The Spinning,” Swanger makes a cohesive statement out of all of these reference points. An acoustic guitar abides by a lazy pace. Gospel-tinged voices carry on as phantasms in the background. A slide guitar wriggles through the ether. Vocals arrive hushed and close at hand. While it is not the best track on the record, it is arguably the most emblematic.

By contrast, the spooky “Phony” represents the far end of Seahorse’s spectrum; with a light electronic beat that would be happy on a Radiohead track, the track drops spare electronic piano melodies over multi-tracked vocal arrangements. It is the album’s most exciting moment yet also its most incongruous one, a misfit desiring to break free of the homey shackles of the eight adjacent songs. Somewhere in between these two compositions you’ll find “Ebenezer.” It blends a curious vocal narrative with one of the more straight-forward song structures on the record; shades of Cat Stevens fill in details during the verses while ascendant choruses bridge the gaps.

While I’ll Be New’s thirty minute running time is a bit short, the quality of the songs on this debut are consistent throughout. It never manages to be as commanding as Whiskey Priest’s offering but it is never too far off, either. Both solo outings, while providing divergent creative outlets for their songwriters, manage to reinforce the same point: it’s been too many years since we’ve heard these two talented musicians team up in earnest - Professor Honeydew


"I'll be new"



After a cross-continental move from Pennsylvania landed Rich Swanger in the Pacific Northwest, his song-writing project, Seahorse, finally began to bloom. I'll Be New is his stunning debut release. This collection of songs is centered on his warm, melodic vocals, and is complimented by tasteful arrangements of guitar, piano, and studio tinkering. His lyrics are packed with possibilities, thick in references to love, iconic creatures, and even “Galileo walking on the Galilee”. These sounds resonate far beyond the hiss of the last chord to a place full of mystery--questions with answers for the listener to find, answers with questions unknown. It is literate, American melancholia for those with a taste for Damien Jurado, Joseph Arthur & Josh Ritter.

At age 7, Swanger sang in his father's country band, performing whichever George Straight or Hank Williams Jr. song was popular that night. He sang in the church choir. He spent his formative years obsessed with Wilco and Radiohead, and played guitar for Easterly. He has found his own voice with Seahorse. Nestled in the lush beauty of Oregon, Swanger continues to birth songs full of transcendence and myth.