Album Review: Tanner Swift – I’m Losing Friends
First, let me say that this is one of my absolute favorite new finds this year. Tanner Swift is the real deal. He also changed the name of his “act” recently to Jvdas. That’s how you can find him on social media and his career moving forward. But good gracious this is an amazing little album and it deserves press in its own right. Fans of exceptional singer songwriters, particularly in the Noah Gundersen vein, really need to listen to Tanner Swift’s music.
The theatricality and string backing on the opening title track “I’m Losing Friends” is at the next level. “I see what the devil sees; I listen when the devil speaks. I think we might all be demons when we want to be.” Whew, that’s powerful. As the song continues, there’s gaping-wound vulnerability about reflecting on personal sin and weakness. It’s about losing his loved ones around him; we’ve all been there.
“Wait” is definitely a song of the year candidate for me. This is just a soul-wrenching song that gets me every time. “Don’t waste your time on someone unwilling to love you as you deserve.” I mean, right? How many people do we know that need to hear this? Maybe you need to hear this. It’s chorded darkly, but then resolves into a hopeful message. “Some day some lover will show you how beautiful being in love can be. Stop looking for someone to complete you. Wait for the one who makes you feel complete.” Preach! This young man has unbelievable wisdom. He writes like a veteran and executes his songs with aplomb.
“Brother’s Keeper” feels like somewhat of an adventure, but a mental or emotional one more than physical. The repetitive “forgive me – I haven’t been in a good place” hits many of us very close to home. Much like the rest of the album, Swift has an uncanny ability to show a kind of cool vulnerability. It’s revelatory of an endearing familial love. “I’m getting better now, but I still feel the rain.” It’s definitely a song that allows many listeners to feel deeply back to personally difficult times. This is emotional singer songwriter music at its finest.
Now “Daisies” is such a bright song compared to others on the album, it’s almost hard to believe that it’s the same songwriter. The decision to use an understated, nearly whispered voice (ala Joshua James) really sets the song apart. There’s an immediate discussion of drinking and drug use that points in the direction of a terribly strained relationship. It’s about a lover who rejects him because of someone that she thought he was in her own head. “We’ve all got our vices that keep us crawling back. Sometimes I still miss what I wished we could be; the man that you hate is a stranger to me.” Wow. This guy is not messing around. What hard, hard emotions.
“Almost” almost floats. It’s got an uplifted acoustic vibe to it. In some ways, it’s incredible all of the different feelings that Swift can conjure with an acoustic guitar. “You never felt like home…” is a the refrain on this song, which reflects back on a relationship that almost worked out. It’s darkly important, connecting feelings of regret, lost love, and dismay.
Speaking of regret, “Never Meant” is almost an anthem for the emotion. “I’m afraid you were right; I’ve always been self involved. I never meant to hurt anyone, but every word I say is wrong.” What a lyric. Tanner Swift can absolutely write killer music. This song sounds like something that could have come out in the early 2000s, inspired deeply by the sort of alt rock stylings of bands like the Wallflowers or Bush. But Swift does this all with an acoustic guitar and his own exposed feelings.
This is a fantastic album by an elite singer songwriter. Tanner Swift can write with the absolute best in the business. His checkered past, revealed throughout this album, provides exceptional inspiration. But we hear on tracks like “Daisies” that he can take the ugliness and brokenness in the past and turn it into something stunningly beautiful. This is not an album or an artist to be missed. The sky is the limit for Swift. I, for one, will be looking to see where his career goes under the Jvdas moniker and I hope he keeps the ethos cultivated here.