Blues has often been described as both the source of the song and the song itself. For an artist like Nashville-based bluesman Patrick Sweany, it’s also become a means of catharsis. “It’s fairly obvious that a good deal of this album is dealing with grief, loss, and its aftermath,” he explains about his new album Close to the Floor (Nine Mile Records; July 16, 2013). “It’s really pushed me to make the record about the resilience of people who love each other.”
Still reeling from a double dose of tragedy that befell his immediate family, he found solace in his music creating as personal a statement as the roots troubadour has ever made. Chronicling his attempts to cope with the premature deaths of two family members, his struggles with perpetual touring, and his battles with the (mostly) ruthless music industry, he spins gorgeous melodies tempered by the harsh light of reality.
A mainstay of the roots and blues circuit for several years now Sweany has released five critically acclaimed records, toured the U.S., Canada, and Europe dozens of times, and built up a reputation for no-holds-barred live shows that recall the days of Stax and Muscle Shoals soul revues. From the swing of the opening track “Working for You” to the midnight blues “Every Night Every Day” to the cool and breezy lilt of “Slippin,” Close To The Floor collects all of these past experiences and bottles them into a record rife with chill-inducing chords and soul-bearing lyrics.
Patrick released his first recordings as a solo bluesman in 1999 with the album I Wanna Tell You. Two years later, he formed an electric trio by the name of The Patrick Sweany Band that featured a rotating cast of guitarists, including Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys.
“Dan’s dad used to bring him out to my Monday night residency in Kent, Ohio in the early 2000’s and would sit in, and we would play Hound Dog Taylor songs all night. He joined the band soon after, and not too long after that, he started The Black Keys,” says Sweany. “I heard the rough mixes of their first record in his car during a set break. I told him ‘please help train your replacement.’”
Titled after a line from the album’s opener, “Workin’ For You,” Close to the Floor is a foray into the whiskey-drenched, road-warrior lifestyle that Sweany has grown accustomed to. “I’m stubborn enough to take a strange pride in my vocation and its various eventualities: getting ripped off, hard travel, exhaustion, etc.” says Sweany. “I can’t sleep on floors anymore but an air mattress and sleeping bag has made the difference between enough money to survive or not… I’m not on the floor, but I’m close to it. I’m still in the game. I’m still swingin’.”
Close To The Floor will be released on July 16th via Nine Mile Records.