PATRICK SWEANY – Ancient Noise (Nine Mile Records NMR0091)

Ancient NoisePatrick Sweany has seven critically acclaimed albums to his credit. His latest album Ancient Noise will be released in the UK on July 6th. Sweany began as an acoustic musician, having absorbed his father’s collection of 60’s folk, vintage country, soul and blues – but then moved on from an intricate finger-picking/slide guitar style to form a band. You can hear the range of influences in this sparkling album.

Ancient Noise opens with a couple of raw tracks, heavy on the bass drum, staccato guitar and hollering vocal. These two are tracks to get the crowd’s attention at the start of a gig and take their mind off the previous band; they do the same for the album. You can hear the second track, ‘Up And Down’, in the video link below.

Our attention thus grabbed, the third track ‘Country Loving’ is just that – a smoochy, country, piano song with a feel of gospel vocals and soul in the mix. The interplay of styles here isn’t just because of Sweany’s formative influences; the album was recorded (by Grammy Award-winning producer Matt Ross-Spang) at Sam Phillips Recording studio in Memphis – a place to record (the place…?) from the time of the early rock and roll legends.

‘No Way No How’ and ‘Outcast Blues’ move us through lively funk and blues to ‘Steady’, another change of place – slow and yearning and really a rather lovely love song “I know it’s a matter of action/To keep the dawn from turning black/ I spend my life not losing you…Even if hard times do come back/Your loving man is here to stay”. Sweany says he took himself out of his comfort zone with this album, the slower songs in particular taking him to new places of vulnerability. They work, though.

‘Get Along’ is again funky and leads to ‘Baby Every Night’ and ‘Play Around’ reminiscent of the best of 50’s/60’s soul music as developed later by Southside Johnny et al. These are two great tracks, Sweany’s vocal phrasing sitting beautifully above the band (lovely snatches of organ, bass, lead guitar – even drumsticks – decorating the songs in turn) and female harmonies. I defy you not to sing along to these, either in your head or out loud

The penultimate song ‘Cry Of Amede’ is about Amede Ardoin, a pioneering creole musician beaten in 1934 for accepting a handkerchief from a white woman. The album closes with ‘Victory Lap’, another gem, starting slow and building to another chorus. Again, I defy you not to sing along with this track. The song ends with a pause and then a crescendo of a finish, a great song to finish an album.

As the press notes say, “Ancient Noise …. finds Sweany in top form, willing to push himself stylistically to great effect”. He is currently on tour in America.

Mike Wistow

Artist’s website:


‘Up And Down’ – live:

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