[Dog on a Swing – ‘On Love II: Love Harder’ EP cover by Eve Alvarez]
By Sandy Power
Dog on a Swing [DOAS] has been a regular fixture of the Edinburgh alternative music scene for a number of years, releasing two EPs and a full-length album up until this latest offering, ‘On Love II: Love Harder’. The EP, a musical riposte to the singer-songwriter’s debut EP ‘On Love’, expands on DOAS aka Ed Ricthie’s three-minute(-ish) pop(py) song format by adding samples, programming and genre hopping. Ritchie provides his usual vocal and guitar performances, as well as other instrumentation, the added programming and string arrangements, the latter lovingly played by a pair of top local players.
Opener ‘Princes St., 4am’, lilts into view on a bed of street sounds, placing us right in the aforementioned Edinburgh shopping street. A glockenspiel brings a light touch, whilst Graham Coe’s earthy cello playing gives the song a lovely depth. Ritchie provides his trademark vocal on top of a familiar finger-picked guitar, shifting to a melancholic minor progression at the end of the song.
‘Dear Diplomat’, a response to ‘The Astronaut and the Diplomat’ from ‘On Love’, is more up tempo, seeing Ritchie opt for a percussive strumming guitar style. The vocal is closer and more intimate as a result, the overall sound peppered by pizzicato strings and rocket countdown samples. The bustling track is rounded off by a spacey phase effect on Ritchie’s electric guitar.
‘Exchanges’ utilises another jaunty rhythm, with a busy bassline and a more muted sonic palette. After a continuous build, a pause in the music ushers in a soaring violin passage from Jon Bews, leading out into a morose minor coda.
‘Pass Port’ is perhaps the most experimental and bold of the songs on this EP, or even throughout the full DOAS catalogue. For this reason, it is one of my favourite tracks on the EP. The spacious reverb on the arpeggiated guitar at the onset of the song fills the stereo spectrum, complemented by a prominent, creeping bass guitar. Coe adds lamenting cello, the song continuing to rest on deliberate discords at the end of each phrase. The instrumental section showcases the string players and is a fantastic piece of arrangement by Ritchie; Beatles-esque in a cacophonous ‘A Day in the Life’ type way. This track really is a stand out for song-writing and production.
‘Be My Widow’ offers a more sedentary antidote to the intensity of ‘Pass Port’. We are spoiled with more luscious, beautifully harmonised strings, which are a perfect extension to Ritchie’s sentimental balladeering. ‘Elephant’ follows, and is the closing track of the EP. The brief, mid-tempo number sees out the collection of songs on a pleasant note, with warm organ and electric guitar soundscapes.
Released on April’s Bandcamp Friday, which landed on the 30th, the EP indicates a maturing and refinement of Ritchie’s song-writing, production and creative expression. The journey from 2013’s ‘On Love’ to its younger sibling has been productive for Dog on a Swing and a fun one for us to follow.
Dog on a Swing – ‘On Love II: Love Harder’ is available to download from the Dog on a Swing Website
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