[sic] Magazine

Black Swan Lane – Dead Souls Collide

You never forget your first love.

The first artist that we ever featured in [sic] was Black Swan Lane, the Atlanta alternative-rock act founded by Jack Sobel.

BSL rose from the ashes of The Messengers and initially pursued a collaborative path working with various alt/dreampop peers, most notably The Chameleons. Since then the group coalesced around the core axis of Sobel and John Kolbeck. Unfortunately, following 2017s outstanding Under My Fallen Sky the full band fragmented. Kolbeck moved away, covid-19 moved in and Sobel was left the last man standing.

We could be forgiven for thinking that an artist would have nothing left to say after ten albums. Not so. Our Jack is restless without guitar in hand – muted without a mic. Each year he eases into his (dis)comfort zone like a familiar pair of old slippers. However Dead Souls Collide is a whole new proposition.

Edgy, energetic and, at times, frantic, the listener is immediately grabbed by the warped guitars of anthemic opener ‘Covenent’. ‘Sacrifice’ doubles down on its predecessors power whist ‘Crushed’ might be the angriest of the lot with a snarky Sobel spitting bile and malice. There’s a (Guy) Chadwickian twang to songs like ‘Crushed’ and ‘Push Me Under’, the latter also tipping its hat to ‘Rebel Rebel’.

It’s a breath-taking opening salvo. I’m put in mind of Catherine Wheels Happy Days or even Kitchens Of Distinctions oft overlooked, Cowboys and Aliens. That’s in part due to the clever dynamics but also the confident lyrical content. The once, world-weary Sobel now feels ready to fight his cause.

Sobel

Spangly, Eastern guitars maintain the continuity with more recent BSL releases. (eg ‘Thorns’, ‘Forever Lost’) Yet the themes and performance show real progression. Vocally, Jack remains on top form with his trademark, cavernous delivery but his words are more defiant than the inertia and despair of past works. He’s rockier too with purposefully pelvic grunts. Fear not. There’s no sign of the leather trousers just yet and that dreamy side of Jack Sobel that we know (and love) is not quite extinguished. Indeed the albums end sequence is loaded with trademark melodic melancholia. The reflective ‘Ghosts’ is beautiful while ‘Under My Wings’ would have stood out on Ringleader Of The Tormentors. However the albums two meisterwerks can be found bookending Morrisseys eluded gem. ‘Alone As Me’ instantly became my deep cut of choice whilst ‘A Place Where The Light Dies’ pushes the BSL envelope to whole new shores.

Black Swan Lanes’ Atlanta remains bathed in a Mancunian gloom but Sobel is changing the lightbulbs. He’s evolving in ways many of us may not have imagined. Todays BSL is, to previous versions, what Sun Kil Moon is to Red House Painters – distinctly different yet distinctly him. The new album is a triumph.

They were always our first loves but the flame is well and truly rekindled on this intriguing new opus. It’s there, shining through.

Dead Souls Collide(d).

And they could never tear us apart.

Dead Souls Collide is officially released 12/12/2023 and is available for pre-order via the link below. Order now and he’ll send it out the following day. That’s just how he rolls. Digital pre-order also available.

Blind

Under My Fallen Sky

Album retrospective

Buy the album.

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