Written By: Andrew Sedo
Originality: (4.5 / 5) Vocals/Flow: (4.5 / 5) Lyrics: (4.5 / 5) Production: (4.5 / 5) Average: (4.5 / 5)
“You dressing in Camouflage doesn’t mean that you’re a tree” opens the second full length project from the evocative Australian quartet fronted by June Jones. The above lines from “Camouflage” might seem self-evidently frivolous to most, but Jones does her best to continually make the incredibly personal seem universal. “Camouflage” closes with the explosively mantric refrain “If you’re feeling terrified / It can help to feel a little terrifying” which colors her dualistic relationship with her identity as a trans-woman in 2017. Consistent demonization led Jones to question her environment and also her means of expression, and has, contradictorily, given her a powerful voice. This is Sword Songs greatest feature, traditional folk music is the backdrop behind a modern story contextualized through natural metaphors.
From the aforementioned tree, Jones becomes a mercilus snake on “Venom” and on “Salmon” she explores the concept of literal gender fluidity. A disciple of punk and emo, Jones places the common identity crisis of youth into an unfamiliar (some would say uncool) context. Any genre discussions of Sword Songs are semantical. The goal is to accompany Jones’ with music that equates a similar sense of tragedy, and triumph. Nowhere, is this more clear that the culminatory “Can I Not?”, which starts sweet before erupting into a scream-folk night terror crescendo. “How can I? / Love you / Love you so much / Can I not?” Jones crushingly wails over growing noise. Is this a plea for help? Is this a question of ability? Is this the end of something good? Is this the continuation of something terrible? Jones relationship with herself is on display at every turn.
There is no discounting the value of honest personal inventory. While “finding oneself” has reached cliche levels of ubiquity, we can always be truthful. Positivity is not within the grasp of most introverts, but abandoning self reflection all together is equally drastic. With Jones we see someone who finds an authentic power in difference, and unless your heart is already broken beyond repair, you have no choice but to feel it.