Seth Swirsky just wants to make the world whistle and hum, and that’s just what he does on his new, second solo album, Watercolor Day.
Swirsky’s love of classically constructed pop songs continues from his winning solo debut, Instant Pleasure (Best Pop Album 2005, Los Angeles Music Awards) through his deliciously retro, British Invasion-minded project with Mike Ruekberg, The Red Button, whose 2007 release, She’s About to Cross My Mind, was both a critical and commercial success. “If The Red Button was around in the ‘60s,” said legendary Beatles recording engineer, Norman Smith, “I would have signed them to EMI!”
Now, just two years later, comes Swirsky’s highly ambitious (18 songs in just 43 minutes) Watercolor Day. To borrow a phrase coined by the great Nick Lowe, this is truly an album of pure pop for now people.
Susanna Hoffs of The Bangles agrees: “Watercolor Day is a sonic banquet of delicious melodies, melt-in–your-mouth harmonies, warm butterscotch guitars that jangle and shine — made with love and reverence for the music of the golden age of pop — guaranteed to raise a smile!’”
Swirsky’s songs have their roots in the most blissful work of Brian Wilson, Paul McCartney’s Wings, ELO and the smart style of Burt Bacharach. Some highlights include the 10cc-inspired, “Matchbook Cover,” the baroque “Song for Heather,” the sunshine-y “Summer in Her Hair” and the cheeky “Big Mistake.”
But to Paul Ellis, music-historian and member of the highly acclaimed rock group, Pop Archaeology Transmission, the songs on Watercolor Day can be compared with the best in the pop genre: “I was going to say that Seth has created one of the best current retro ‘60s Sunshine Pop albums out there, but that’s not the whole story. What he’s actually created is one of THE best albums in that style, ever. Period. Regardless of the “when” aspect, this is 21st century Wrecking Crew stuff. If you heard his Red Button album — She’s About to Cross My Mind — and now with Watercolor Day (and his first album, Instant Pleasure), you’ll know what I mean when I say he’s a stunningly great pop songwriter, in the same company as some of the greats of the 1964-1974, golden era of pop music.
The welcoming Title song builds from a tuneful folkish strum until it is visited by pedal steel droplets, a crunchy, full-blown horn section and twisting guitar candy, balanced over a gallop-and-trot rhythm.
A tribute to the late Harry Nilsson, “(I Never Knew You) Harry,” is another standout single, while “She’s Doing Fine” would have fit nicely on The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds with its harmony-drenched, melodic melancholia.
Another treat is “Fading Again,” which describes Swirsky’s battle with boredom: “Too many lists to make, too many pills to take. Not enough hours to bake in the sun.”
There is even a coda at the end of the album (who does codas these days?) in the form of the song “I’m Just Sayin’” – which beautifully interweaves four melodies from earlier songs, in effect, “tying up” the album in a nice, neat bow.
Swirsky spent years as a staff songwriter for Warner-Chappell and EMI, writing a number of worldwide hits for a startling variety of artists, including Taylor Dayne (“Tell it to My Heart”), Al Green (“Love is a Beautiful Thing”), Rufus Wainwright (“Instant Pleasure”), Jane Weidlin of the Go-Gos, Tina Turner, Celine Dion and Smokey Robinson, among many others. He has garnered 32 gold and platinum records and numerous ASCAP songwriting awards.
A self-described “Manic Expressive,” Swirsky has also created three bestselling baseball books (including the wryly-titled “Every Pitcher Tells A Story”) and even has in his collection the ball that went through Bill Buckner’s legs in the 1986 World Series. Additionally, he’s completing a documentary, “Beatles Stories,” featuring interviews with people (Sir Ben Kingsley, Graham Nash, Sir George Martin, Justin Hayward and over 60 more) who share personal, inside stories about themselves and the Fab Four.
Now, as Watercolor Day is finally unveiled, rave reviews are already pouring in from those who have heard it: “This highly creative album must be listened to in headphones. Loud. A truly top-shelf record from the first track to the last,” says syndicated L.A. radio (KLSX-FM) personality, Chris Carter.
“On Watercolor Day, Seth Swirsky’s irresistibly melodic tunes are in full bloom, a treat for those of us who love classic pop music,” says Jack Oliver, the first President of the Beatles’ fabled Apple Records.
For Swirsky, Watercolor Day is a true state of mind. “Everyday is a watercolor day, different feelings, different emotions all running together as greens and blues run together in a watercolor painting.”