The Black Swans
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The Black Swans

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The best kept secret in music


"Copper Press review"

A beautifully desperate and dark batch of tunes from The Black Swans is just what any dark and desperate night of the soul cries out for, for it is through such spare but deep-hearted music that we begin to heal. Throughout this ten-song release we sit beside vocalist Jerry DeCicca as he does his best American Bryan Ferry, reminding us that we are not alone but sound very much so himself. You need only hear pieces such as “Hours Never End,” with its somber opening piano figure or “The Raft,” which stirs the soul from desperation to hope and then back, or the self-explanatory “Days Are Long” to know that there is new truth being spoken in this world about the human condition and that this outfit is one of the most qualified (yet softest) speakers. Beautifully, composed, arranged and performed, Who Will Walk in the Darkness with You? makes you understand that the rest is indeed silence and walks that narrow alley between absence and longing and presence and joy. – Jedd Beaudoin - Copper Press

"Pitchfork review"

Just when you thought there weren't enough guys named Jerry making interesting music anymore, out pops this old-fashioned death-folk five-piece helmed by Jerry DeCicca, a man whose speak-singing (whisper-begging?) will surely be the line in the sand between his devotees and his detractors. Imagine a Norwegian doing an impression of Leonard Cohen, only he has confused Leonard Cohen with Ralph Stanley. Imagine a nursing home audience mutiny that forces Alasdair Roberts to channel Chris Isaak. Imagine the stagey, breathy tremble of Jamie Stewart trying to lull you to sleep (and taint your dreams) rather than shock you awake.
This tune's traditional enough for parents, and spooky enough for kids. Without disrupting the song's pastoral coherence, the guitar solo steals J.J. Cale's technique back from Mark Knopfler. "Who Will Walk In The Darkness With You?" uses familiar (to the point of being thought stagnant) alt-country tools to craft a distinguished anthem for the slow procession of late afternoons spent in a rotting cabin worrying about the overdue rent, as well as spiritual debt. [William Bowers]
- Pitchfork

"Skyscraper review"

Every bit as somber and funereal as their album title suggests, the debut by The Black Swans is a study in sustained grieving. Playing a haunted brand of gothic country-folk that creeps along at a dirge-like pace, the Columbus, Ohio quintet creates a darkly austere sonic landscape where the Tindersticks, Smog, and Lambchop all bob together in a slow, black stream. Lead vocalist Jerry DeCicca writes serenely delicate songs about loneliness, loss, and meaninglessness, delivering one pained rhetorical question after another with a sense of frail detachment. His soft croon adds an even deeper sense of mystery and creepiness to the arrangements, as if he’s trying to lull the listener into a false sense of security so that the murky sonic sway will seem less ominously enveloping.-Matt Fink - Skyscraper #19- fall '05

"Erasing Clouds review"

Like a haunted-country version of Arab Strap, The Black Swans slowly glide through the shadows with love-and-loneliness dirges on their latest album Who Will Walk in the Darkness With You?. The Black Swans' music is eerie, yet at the same time quite beautiful. The surface-level bleakness is often covering up lovely evocations of solitude. There's an ample amount of George Jones hidden in these bones, along with the more obvious Nick Cave. The Black Swans sound is evocative of both old-time American C&W and British folk music, in instrumentation (the violin and acoustic guitar) and the bare-bones emotional landscape. And the overall tone is as serious as Death himself. To get a sense for the Black Swans universe, listen to the picture lead singer Jerry DeCicca paints at the start of "Song Without You," as he sings, "Tonight is fading/and tomorrow's falling down/promises are breaking/can't you hear the sound?" Hurt, disappointment, and the feeling that everyone is left alone forevermore - the answer to the title question is 'no one', by the way - are everyday feelings in this world. As with much so-called bleak music though, it isn't about sinking or wallowing. This in its own way is revealing, inspiring and quite gorgeous music. - dave heaton - Erasing Clouds

"Orlando weekly review"

By Jason Ferguson

You know that feeling you get when you listen to a Giant Sand record? Or a Tom Waits record, or a Tim Buckley record, for that matter? That knot in your gut that comes from hearing a singer whose voice simply does not fit a standard definition of how a singer should sing? That sensation is at play all throughout the debut from this Columbus group. Who Will Walk is filled with sparse, low-impact melancholy, with piano lines drifting in and out, snare drums lightly tapped, fiddles mourning in the background ... it's all about a sort of exhausted loneliness. And then there's Jerry DeCicca's voice, a world-weary baritone dripping with unfulfilled drama, tearily wending its way through the album's 10 tracks. The end effect is darkly obscured, lower-case-g-gothic blues that would be unimaginable without such a unique voice. Not a disc to lift the spirits, this is the sound you hear before you take that last pill. Enjoy.

- Orlando Weekly

" review"

I was at a Buddy and Julie Miller concert once. While Buddy tuned up between songs, Julie talked to the crowd about Emmy Lou Harris. She wondered out loud why it is that sad songs can make you feel so good.
I found myself thinking about what she said again when I listened to the Black Swans' Who Will Walk in the Darkness With You?. The spare arrangements, the unfailing sadness and resignation in Jerry DeCicca's voice and lyrics, the minor keyed turns of the violin, the inventively aching guitar lines.. .they somehow turn bleakness into something that makes me feel really, well.. alive.
DeCicca's vocals remind me of the slightly flat astonishment of a trauma victim recounting his story in a calm. His delivery is the center of these songs, as he walks us through a darkness where "Our spirit hangs low / And swims like a tired minnow" and where "Off in the distance / A man made a lake / A mantis sits praying / For an honest mistake. " These aren't the first thoughts of the broken hearted, blurted out. The speaker in these songs has had time to reflect on loss. The pain is still there, but it's tempered by reflection. DeCicca's restraint makes moments like the end of "Song Without You," when he raises his voice and lashes out at his guitar strings, all the more powerful.
DeCicca's supporting musicians give equally amazing performances. Noel Sayre plays guitar in a spare and winding, slightly country inflected style. Milan Karcic's playing has the feel of both the feel and colors of a country or bluegrass fiddler and a classical violinist. And the interplay between Karcic and Sayre as they trade solos, take turns supporting each other and DeCicca's vocals are perfect. Listen to the first 25 seconds or so of "The Raft" and the emotion that Karcic brings to simple supporting chords on the violin underneath Sayre's solo. Then listen to how the two of them help DeCicca build and the emotion of the song with swelling chords and arpeggios. Listen how they come forward in the breaks between vocal lines. These are musicians who are listening closely to each other and who serve the needs of the song.

This is the kind of album that gets better each time you hear it. It asks that you listen closely and asks you to slow down. And on each listen, it opens up to you a little more. It doesn't make sense that sad songs could make you feel good. But the Black Swan's Who Will Walk in the Darkness with You? does just that. Somehow they've taken that darkness and made it into something beautiful.

"High Bias review"

Wow, what kind of place is Columbus, Ohio, that a band like this would emerge from it? The Black Swans inhabits a flat, frozen land where violins hum, guitars breathe and ghosts sob quietly in the distance. On the quintet's debut, leader Jerry DiCicca warbles about "Honest Eyes," "The Raft" and "Black Swan Blues" as if he loves them but has been disappointed by them too many times. The music gently tunes up twilight, hazy and austere, with unexpected details revealed in the half-light. Who Will Walk in the Darkness With You? is the sound of loneliness, serene, sad and beautiful. Michael Toland - review

"Splendid SXSW '05 review"

I do end up at Friends early on in the evening for the Black Swans show, and their luminous folk blues songs are mesmerizing, dark and utterly at odds with everything I've heard at SXSW so far. Unfortunately, Noel Sayre, the band's violinist, was unable to make the trip -- Jerry DeCicca later said he was caring for an elderly father -- so the songs were missing that swooning, swooping something that made Who Will Walk in the Darkness with You? so hypnotic. Still, DeCicca's wonderful voice -- soft and mournful like Tindersticks' Stuart Staples -- and the very evident skill of his second guitarist eventually won me over.

"Austin Chronicle-SXSW '05 sleeper pick"

8pm, Friends Columbus, Ohio's Black Swans favor bittersweet minor-key reflection. Who Will Walk in the Darkness With You? (Delmore) presents the quintet's acoustic drums, double bass, Minutemen/baroque-influenced violin, languid vocals, and warm guitars. – David Lynch - Austin Chronicle

"Border Radio- SXSW '05"

The disquieting, bare-bones folk of Columbus, OH ensemble the Black Swans deserved much better than an 8:00 p.m. Saturday slot at a noisy Sixth Street meat market.
--Kurt B. Reighley
- The Stranger (Seattle weekly)


Our debut cd, Who Will Walk in the Darkness with You?, was released by Delmore Recording Society in November 2004. Lots of good reviews found on our website; features on and Performed at SXSW, NXNE 2005.

Forthcoming "Sex Brain E.P" in March 2005, recorded in a basement and masered by Gaving Lurssen (O Brother SNDTK, Tom Waits, Daniel Lanois).


Feeling a bit camera shy


Musical influences sweep from melodists like Tim Hardin and Tom Waits to Moby Grape, Daniel Lanois, and Ali Farke Toure. Lyrically, many nods to contemporary poets like Mark Strand, Robert Creeley, and David St. John.