Singer/songwriter Richard Swift's lo-fi, sepia-toned style harked back to the Tin Pan Alley age. Born in 1977, the California native spent his youth locked in his room with a four-track recorder, a device that -- along with a computer -- the artist continued to utilize throughout his career.
Influenced by everyone from Bob Dylan to early-'70s dub acts like the Congos and Lee Perry, he provided keyboards for shoegazers Starflyer 59 and released two records of his own, Walking Without Effort and The Novelist, which were reissued on Secretly Canadian as a double album in 2005. Dressed Up for the Letdown arrived two years later. In 2008 Swift released Richard Swift as Onasis, a double-disc EP, followed later in the year by another EP, Ground Trouble Jaw, before the full-length Atlantic Ocean appeared in 2009.
All the while picking up production work for artists such as Sylvie Lewis and Gardens & Villa, Swift began a fruitful relationship with fellow singer/songwriter Damien Jurado when he produced Jurado's 2010 album, Saint Bartlett. The pair reunited later that year for a weekend get-together that resulted in the unplanned covers album Other People's Songs, Vol. 1. They released the home recording as a temporary, free digital download. Swift's own seven-track Walt Wolfman arrived in 2011 and was followed by further production work for Jurado as well as for bands including Foxygen, Tennis, and Guster. In 2016, Other People's Songs, Vol. 1 received an official physical release by Secretly Canadian. The following year, Joyful Noise issued a vinyl single of the previously unreleased "4 Yr Luv" with B-side by Tall Tall Trees as part of a limited-edition series pairing roster members with their musical influences.
Following a brief illness, Swift died in Tacoma, Washington on July 3, 2018 at the age of 41. His final album, The Hex, was released digitally that September with physical formats following in December 2018. A few months later, Secretly Canadian reissued a compilation of the EPs Ground Trouble Jaw and Walt Wolfman. ~ James Christopher Monger & Marcy Donelson, Rovi