WRITTEN BY: @DARCWON
During the era of the Prohibition (1830’s – 1933), many people would go to “juke joints” or “speakeasies” for a good time and alcoholic beverages (which I trust you know were illegal during the Prohibition era). These establishments were filled with jazz, blues, frisky women, and men trying to unwind. Although those days are now a thing of the past, that type of music continues to live on. Cold Winters & Warm Whiskey, a joint project with SYG, was Swerve’s entrance into hip hop. Capitalizing on the newly opened doors, thanks to the reception received from the project, Swerve continues to build on the theme from the Cold Winters & Warm Whiskey (CWWW) project with The Barrelhouse. Sticking to the “speakeasy sound”, he conjured up The Barrelhouse LP; an album filled to the brim with jazzy concoctions and lyrics dealing with bluesy influences.
The majority of The Barrelhouse deals with personal subject matter. Taking “Yesterday’s Gone” as one example, we find Swerve using the song as a symbolic piece of harsh reality. The recession themed song starts off with references to having a good job until his the unfortunate moment of when his “pay was taken”. Other songs like “Wasting Away”, “So Many Days”, and “Better Off on My Own” are great examples of self-reflection, struggle, and being self-motivated. In short, Swerve is the perfect lyrical companion to a shot of whiskey and airing out of one’s grievances/issues as he uses The Barrelhouse as a modern day hip hop blues record.
Melodically, the album flows in the same vein as the subject matter as the production on The Barrelhouse is pretty smooth, moody, and melancholy sounding. “Different Shades” comes in with the boom bap, keys, and guitar licks whereas “Wasting Away” uses vocal samples and saxophone blares to enhance the moodiness and lonely feelings Swerve injects into the track. The only “upbeat” track is “Home” mainly due to the bpm’s and rhyme cadence. Otherwise, the music matches the lyrics and theme of the album: mood music.
Swerve completes the album with ease using simple yet, effective verses that allows him to pour his heart out. The beats, being well made, fit his lyrics to perfection. Barrelhouse LP is an album for drinking one’s sorrows away while serving as a motivating force all at the same time. This is no frills hip hop to sip whiskey to and unwind. My suggestion: find some brown liquor and sip slowly while you listen, relax and let go of your issues.