The girl who cried wolf – Sierra Swan

Sierra Swan Ladyland

Grrrl rock: Why is it that so much dross is splattered all over the music chart when the real gals never get a look in? Sierra Swan is back with her honestly-titled album, “The girl who cried wolf”…

Sierra Swan takes her life – the men, the pain, the excess, the decisions – and turns it into bruised and beautiful cabaret. She puts on her best dress, smears her lipstick across her face so you know it’s a mask, shows us her difference in a mirror. All alone on stage, she spits out peaks and troughs of life with honesty and a painted smile. When you see her hammer that piano, she drapes herself like a younger Courtney Love, and sings with all the knowing velvet ferocity of a twice-bruised torch song queen doing her last finale in a closed-down cabaret in war-torn Berlin.

When Sierra Swan sings about the eternal battle of life, love and courtship, there’s nothing easy and pat in her self-penned lyrics. No “if you like it then you should have put a ring on it”, much as we genuinely enjoy La Beyonce. True songwriters need to sing their own words because anyone else’s wouldn’t fit in their mouths.

Now, Mookychick has been following Sierra Swan for some time. We reviewed Ladyland (still high up there on our top ten albums of the last decade). She gave us a fantastic interview on why life is nuts and why exactly music is so cathartic. Sierra’s a fighter; she’s had major label deals and major label drops. (The exact deal with Atlantic Records as Tori Amos had along with the same drop.)

And now she’s back. She’s set up her own label with her sister, Planet Swan. Planet Swan has brought out the latest Sierra Swan album, only available online: Girl Who Cried Wolf.

The title makes us wonder, rather. An album about a girl who played games for the fun of it, only for those games to come back and bite her on the ass? We’ll have to ask her one day. We like the title, there. There’s a hint of fairytale. A hint of the power of a woman – and a hint of the big, bad wolf.

Girl Who Cried Wolf is our favourite album since the tremendous Ladyland – it’s seriously on form. The piano is used to tease, to evoke the circus, the fairground, the bar, the bedroom – then turned around and backed with violins to a level of haunting, pained sweetness.

Sierra Swan’s previous album, “Queen of the Valley”, played with electro sensibilities. We’d never be all, you know, fascist and that and stop a creative person from playing around a bit, but this album is perhaps a stronger showcase of what Sierra Swan does best – letting her awesome voice ride a piano, drums and guitar to create a world that isn’t as surreal as the Dresden Dolls but is, perhaps, in its own way as darkly cabaret.

And, like the inestimable PJ Harvey, Sierra Swan sings of the dark truth women know lies inside themselves but probably wouldn’t want a man to see. Her songs are honest and cathartic and stirring – her voice paints a picture of contrasts, like a bruised plum, like a showgirl’s leg covered in blood.

Linda Perry of the 4 Non Blondes says of our favourite swan, “Her voice will take you on an emotional journey. Beautiful, erotic, mesmerizing, captivating and suspenseful is everything that comes to mind when listening to Sierra Swan.”

If you loved Ladyland, buy Girl Who Cried Wolf. If you’ve never heard Sierra Swan before but love Regina Spektor, the Dresden Dolls or PJ Harvey, Girl Who Cried Wolf. In fact, even if you like Amy Lee of Evanescence, buy Girl Who Cried Wolf. Amy fans will recognise a good voice when they hear it.

And on the day when the wolf comes we’ll stand together, lower our red hoods, lift up the napkin on our picnic baskets and show him what we’ve really got hidden in there…