Cafe Nine celebrated the start of summer with an evening of rebirths, as Virginian cellist and composer Wes Swing returned for his second performance this year flush with new music, a novel appreciation for synthesizers, and an album fizzing with a message of revival.
Swing is a splatter-painter in the music industry, concocting musical palettes that mix classical with pop, indie with folk, as part of an emerging trend in the field of strings. His stylings infuse classical instruments with the splendors of modernity.
“It’s kind of like indie-classical meets dream pop,” Swing said of his music, though cautioning, “we’ve struggled a lot with genre.”
At Cafe Nine Wednesday night, Swing showcased hits off his new album, And The Heart, released earlier this month on June 2. It brimmed with lyrical and melodic confidence. He offered a form of music—cello indie folk pop—that you won’t find many other places.
He began the concert bathed in shadows and dim red and green spotlights, resting his cello companion across his body as he plucked a tune of tranquility and called out soothing lyrics from the first single off his new album, “Mirrors.” Eyes closed, rocking gently from side-to-side, Swing transformed the space around him as he invited the audience to enter a musical dreamscape.
Tinges of sadness and hope, optimism and resilience, spanned the evening’s set list, as Swing presented songs like “And the Heart,” “The Next Life,” and “Missing Winter” off his freshly released album. Accompanied by a bass and a violin, he paired the new set with a favorite from his first album, “Instrumental 1” and a clever cover of Bjork’s “Unravel.”
The new album comes six long years after the release of his first album, Through a Fogged Glass, in 2011, and tells a fierce tale of personal empowerment and loss of identity.
The formation of Swing’s second album occurred after the artist struggled with a hiatus from music. Combating a wrist injury that conflicted with his cello playing and a weighty spell of depression, Wes Swing at one time found himself disengaged with his musical calling.
“I had a lot of difficulty before I wrote the music,” Swing said. “I was living in San Francisco, quit music basically, and was dealing with depression — I just wasn’t productive at all. It was when I started to feel better, that the music came out.”
Swing crafted And the Heart in 2014 and 2015. He conjured up “Mirrors” while flying on a plane, a peculiar setting that inspired Swing with the emotions it brought out in him.
“I was feeling like myself,” he revealed. “I was feeling confident and happy, and it had been a long time since I had those feelings so deeply.”
As his friendliness with music reformed, another partnership opened up in Swing’s life. Swing teamed up with old friend and guitar champion Paul Curreri, who led production for And the Heart. Curreri had suffered a recent wrist and throat injury that halted his performing career, forcing him to consider production instead.
“It was kind of an interesting thing,” Swing recalls. “He and I had the same wrist and throat injury at the same time. He can’t play anymore. This album for both us was coming back to music. In a way, redefining who we are as musicians.”
Swing is gearing up to release a music video for “Mirrors” with a dance he choreographed himself, and continues to compose songs he’s hoping to record early next year.
“I feel more comfortable in my own skin,” he said, “and I know what I want more in recording and life.”