The duo of singer Molly Felder and guitarist Bill DeMain, plus a complement of rhythm, occasional strings and horns, and bassist Brad Jones, comprise Swan Dive. They play power pop, on many occasions recalling hippie musings of the late '60s with occasional jazz elements and distinct folk influences á la Joni Mitchell. Felder has a preciously sweet voice; it's crystal clear and decisive, like Edie Brickell sans the mystery. They stand firmly in the singer/songwriter camp on "The Day That I Went Home," on the simple vocal/acoustic guitar duet "Luckiest Girl in the World," and on the personalized, other-woman syndrome "Charade," the latter with strumming guitars and highway harmonica from Pat Bergeson which punctuates the lyrics. Swan Dive likes to use different instrumental sounds to set up their songs: There's minimalist marimba on "Better to Fly" and chamber strings for "Goodbye September," while flute-powered, vibes-brightened cha-cha pop informs "Ordinary Day." Delicate, breezy woodwinds define "And She Dreams," while clattery tin-pan and electric sounds buoy their CD-enhanced take of Blondie's "Heart of Glass." DeMain breathily sings three numbers upfront: the stringed pop of "Rome Will Fall," the softly focused "Sweet Enemy," and the mediocre, flower-power tune "Groovy Tuesday," complete with references to 1969. There's also "Circle," a pseudo R&B, Chicago-type number, and the funky "Mood Swinging," replete with trumpeter Bill Rosengarden talking back to saxophonist Jim Hoke in the brief Blood, Sweat & Tears-style bridge. Swan Dive presents songs of love, regret, and reminiscence. Apparently a hit in Japan, they now tackle America with a retro-pop that recalls a kinder, gentler style.
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AllMusic Review by Michael G. Nastos