Small Gods

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Swati is a New York-based singer/songwriter with a lot of style and what may be an overabundance of substance. Vocally, she's like Sheryl Crow except snarlier. Musically, she's as captivating as she is fierce -- strap a guitar on her and she comes alive, coaxing out sounds that rate a 50-50 chance of being soothing or unsettling. Where she'll come on slightly too strong for some listeners is with her unflinching lyrics: Small Gods details deep, dark feelings of emptiness ("MF"), loneliness ("Blackjack"), and chemically enhanced freakishness ("Stay"). Nowhere does it stint on profanity. For all its Courtney Love- and Ani DiFranco-reminiscent anger and anguish laid bare, the overall vibe of Small Gods isn't a crushing one -- nobody with an ear for off-the-hook honesty will be eager to walk away from it. What Swati may lack in emotional stability, she makes up for on Small Gods in talent.

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