There is a section on the United States map that is rumored not to exist, a scrunched up space between the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers where giants were said to have carved the rolling hills out of limestone and Caleb Sweazy spent a childhood exploring the endless acres of a National Forest. Considered a hick to those in the North and a Yankee by anyone south of this river confluence, Caleb found comfort in being an outsider.
As a boy he dreamed of being an artist. As a young man he moved to California to become an actor. Somewhere in the years that followed he realized that music was his tool for self-expression and the songs emerged, his voice heavily informed by the everywhere-and-nowhere sensibility that had defined his childhood.
After a stint as the bass player for psychedelic rock outfit The Warlocks, Caleb created his own band with a decidedly stripped down sound. “Fool,” a song from his debut EP, was selected for volume two of This is Americana, long before it was cool to be folk. Now living in spitting distance from those hills of his own childhood, Caleb calls Memphis, Tennessee home.
In some ways that’s where the story of his newest album begins: in Memphis as a husband and father, endlessly inspired by his children yet unsure how his identity as an artist could survive under the daily grind of running a business and supporting a family. In fact, he confesses, he didn’t see how that identity could fit in at all.
But then, last fall, in a rare live performance, Caleb debuted several new songs, winning over his audience and, unknowingly, Blue Barrel Records. Caleb was signed to the nascent label and given the green light to record an album.
Lucky or Strong is Caleb Sweazy’s fourth album, and he will continue writing and singing about the fringes long after it’s cool to do so.
Daily Discovery: “Lucky or Strong” – American Songwriter
Music Video Monday: Caleb Sweazy World Premiere – Memphis Flyer
Caleb Sweazy steps into the ring with new video for “Lucky or Strong” – Skin Back Alley
“Memphis, Tennessee songman, Caleb Sweazy, comes out swinging on advice for life, using the tune title, ‘Lucky or Strong,’ as a mantra for world living in 2015. The melody is easy to smooth out the blows coming in video form showing a boxing bout that Caleb Sweazy stages as a battle for the ring of life.” – “Lucky or Strong” video feature on The Alternate Root
“‘Lucky or Strong’ is a very simple (and rather short at 2:44) track, but it’s incredibly effective. … We never get to see the outcome of the fight, but that’s the point. We have to make our own story endings.” – For The Country Record
“‘This is not my American Dream/Everyone knows everything’ is a pretty fine album-opening lyric, especially when a couple of ace hands such as Lucero’s Rick Steff (piano) and John C. Stubblefield (upright bass) are adding to the Americana, helping sprinkle bits of Delta-to-New Orleans stroll and turn-of-the-century parlor music across the track.” – Chris Herrington, Listening Log / GoMemphis
“Whether it’s songs or fine furniture, Caleb Sweazy is a consummate craftsman. A skilled woodworker and builder with his own custom furniture shop, Caleb Sweazy Works, he’s also a singer-songwriter with a catalog of finely etched story songs.” – Bob Mehr, GoMemphis
“Lucky or Strong was recorded completely live and finds Sweazy recalling bittersweet tales that cover everything from an old Model A Ford to WWI. Sweazy claims to like songs that make the listener feel happy and sad at the same time, and this collection of guitar-driven, bluesy folk rock is sure to do just that. With this lineup of prominent Memphis musicians and producer Houston at the helm, Lucky or Strong is a good indication that Sweazy is a local songwriter worth paying attention to.” – Chris Shaw, Memphis Flyer
“Caleb Sweazy brings old-world charm to his Americana. His old-time crooner’s voice blends seamlessly with his twang-inflected ballads. “Soldier’s Heart,” a tale of love from WWI, is an instant winner.” – Adobe and Teardrops
“A soulful brand of blues-inflected Americana, Lucky Or Strong is a subtly impressive affair. Its themes are many and strong and run through it like the blood of a pedigree. There’s an energy and freshness here that make it feel like Sweazy has somehow only just arrived, yet there is the wisdom and deep knowledge of an old soul in evidence too.” – Skin Back Alley
“Sweazy’s soft-spoken vocal delivery carries the subtlety of a Beat Generation poet. His music weaves together a spectrum of emotions and sounds. The songs are equal parts of light-hearted Americana folk, old school soul, and mourning piano-driven rock.” – Choose901
“Sweazy moves easily between blues and various forms of Americana. He is obviously a talented songwriter. While his sound is reminiscent of Clarence Bucaro, his songwriting style is frequently reminiscent of guys like Tom Waits and John Hiatt. He is definitely an artist worth getting to know.” – Gary Schwind, AXS Entertainment
“The Memphis-based Sweazy plays it old school, writing songs that bridge the distance from Tin Pan Alley to old-time Nashville.” – Mayer Danzig, Twangville
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