It’s been five years since Antony Hegarty and his shifting collection of musicians won the Mercury Music Prize with I’m a Bird Now. With this fourth album Swanlights, Hegarty’s music seems to just get better and better. This record returns to the dark themes that fascinate him so much – spirits, death, ghosts and a landscape that lies somewhere between the unconscious and a world that is beyond human understanding. Although Hegarty’s unique and astounding ability to hold a falsetto note has been the epicentre behind most of his song writing to date, Swanlights is a record that strives for an eclectic sound, pushing the music into new territory, moving beyond the operatic ballad he is famous for.
‘I’m in Love’, with its thumping double bass. has all the raw qualities of a track from Astral Weeks or Rain Dogs, while ‘Swanlights’ itself, with its atmospheric backward and distorted guitars, is a brilliant cinematic six minute epic on a journey into the unknown, with Hegarty declaring: ‘It’s a mystery, a mystery, the Swanlight’. In an era where songwriters of a serious nature are few and far between, Hegarty is a rare breed of quality that elevates far higher than any of his peers in the music business.