Final Richard Swift Album Announced for Release Tomorrow, Listen to New Song “Sept20”

The Hex Due Out Tomorrow via Secretly Canadian

Sep 20, 2018 Photography by Rachel Demy
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Richard Swift passed away back in July. Now The Hex, a final album from the singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist/producer, has been announced and it's due out digitally tomorrow (September 21) via Secretly Canadian. There will be a physical release on December 7. The album's first single, "Sept20," has been shared, fittingly on its namesake date. Below are the single and the album's cover art.

The album was put together over the last several years, but was only finished just a month before Swift's death. A press release describes the album this way: "The Hex is the grand statement Swift acolytes have been a-wishin-and-a-hopin' for all these years. After a career of sticking some of his finest songs on EPs and 45s, here are all his powers coalescing into a single, long-player statement." 

One song on the album, "Dirty Jim," is about substance abuse and, as a press release puts it, "the lies you tell yourself in its grip; and the loved ones you hurt along the way." Swift lost his mother and sister in back-to-back years and there is a pair of songs about them, with "Wendy" being about his mother and "Sister Song" about his sibling. But it's not all somber, as the press release describes another track, "KENSINGTON!," as "a narrative song about a doomed expedition" but goes on to paint of wilder picture of the track: "There are rats and hornets and some unknown enemy out there in the darkness. And you just know there's no way Kensington and his team are getting out of this thing alive. In the chaos, these ill-fated explorers just start firing. A thick fog of smoke adds to the chaos." 

Swift was 41 when he died and before his death had been hospitalized for a "serious medical condition." It was later revealed that his death was connected to his alcohol addiction. Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys and The Arcs announced Swift's passing via an Instagram post. "Today the world lost one of the most talented musicians I know," Auerbach wrote. "He's now with his Mom and Sister. I will miss you my friend."

Richard Swift may not be a household name, but his storied career had made an impact on many in the indie rock music community. Not only had he released various albums, singles, and EPs as a solo artist, going back to 2003's mini-album The Novelist, he had also produced a number of well-regarded albums and played in other bands. Swift was a member for The Shins from 2011 to 2016. He was the touring bassist for The Black Keys in 2014 and was the drummer for The Arcs. As a producer, he either produced or co-produced the following albums: The Mynabirds' What We Lose in the Fire We Gain in the Flood and Generals; Foxygen's We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic; Damien Jurado's Saint Bartlett, Maraqopa, and Visions of Us on the Land; Tennis' Ritual in Repeat and Small Sound; Laetitia Sadier's The Trip; Springtime Carnivore's Springtime Carnivore; The Shins' Heartworms; Kevin Morby's City Music; and others. 

Swift also founded and owned a recording studio in Cottage Grove, Oregon, called National Freedom. He was born in California, but moved around a lot as a kid (including in Minnesota, Utah, and Oregon). As a teenager he began performing and singing in churches and also started experimenting with a four-track recorder. As an adult, Swift moved to Southern California to pursue a career in music. He eventually caught the attention of Secretly Canadian, who in 2005 re-released his early albums The Novelist and Walking Without Effort as The Richard Swift Collection Vol. 1. Swift's last solo album was 2009's The Atlantic Ocean. Although in 2016 he teamed up with frequent collaborator Damien Jurado for the covers album Other People's Songs Vol. 1.

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