RICHARD SWIFT | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader


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On his new Dressed Up for the Letdown (Secretly Canadian), pop throwback Richard Swift continues to curdle Brill Building sweetness with the cynicism, if not the substance, of Randy Newman. In fairness, he may suspect that his lyrics aren't all they could be--the CD booklet provides only fragments of them, often crossed out or otherwise obscured--but he does get in some good lines, often at his own expense ("I played your heart, but I broke two strings"; "Sorry, Mr. Swift, but you're much too fat / And could I persuade you just to wear a cap"). And his gifts as a musician have never been better displayed. Though Swift still plays nearly everything himself, the new record has a bigger sound than earlier, lo-fi efforts; his multipart melodies get the perfect lift from lilting piano-driven arrangements, which are judiciously fleshed out with harmony vocals, strings, and Bacharach-worthy brass lines. Swift's songwriting models may be decades old, but hooks this strong are timeless. White Rabbits and All Smiles open. a 9 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, $12.


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