I found this CD at work and texted James…
Me: Why do I know the name Ember Swift?
James: I saw her live at Crawdaddy’s* in 2003.
Me: Wow. OK… Did she have something to do with Hawksley? He produced or something? Or is that my faulty memory?
James: Entirely possible. The thought crossed my mind too.
Me: Was she any good tho? There’s a CD here, is all. I was curious.
James: I liked it well enough but she was super political in that way where I pretty much agree with all of it but Jesus Christ dial it back a little. Apparently. I don’t really remember it, but that’s what I wrote down.
Me: Haha. I’m going to buy the CD just because of that.
Anyway, this 1997 effort is alternately full-on strident young lady with an acoustic guitar Ani DiFranco-ish goodness, and beautiful ballad strummery. All is offered with a voice perfectly suited for both. I liked how she even quoted Alanis in the first track, Own It, a tune on which she absolutely goes for broke. The piano playing on Awkward Lover perfectly emulate her voice, and the violin on Fly is a great touch. The album ends with a track of her eating sour cream and onion chips. I know.
If I had heard this in 1997, I’d have been all over it as it’s the sort of university dorm room album I’d have embraced, and a show at the pub/coffeeshop would have rocked us. In 2019, in my mid-40s, to hear this now, I still enjoyed it.
Also: I still don’t know if there was ever a Hawksley connection. Are you out there reading this, Ember? Was there one, at any point?
*Crawdaddy’s was a restaurant we went to in Saskatoon, cajun-style menu. A magician had stuck a bunch of playing cards to the ceiling with some trick they did during the evening shows. Anyway, they had a bbq chicken/ham/cheese/mustard/coleslaw sandwich called The Big Messy and, as the name implies, it certainly was messy and it was goddamn glorious. And then James remembered the cajun poutine…