In It With You
Weighing in at five tracks and 18 minutes, In It With You, the newest EP from Iowa artist Jim Swim, is difficult to pigeonhole in terms of genre. If pressed, I would describe it as a blend of hip hop, Nick Drake bootlegs, a book of poems by Rumi and a cold Arnold Palmer spiked with a little bit of whiskey.
What this EP is, above all else, is incredibly accessible, with deceptively well-crafted lyrics and a rich sonic soundscape. It’s head-bobbing music, and the laidback tone is set firm and early with the opening track. “I Know a Free One” is the musical equivalent of moving your arm in a swimming motion outside the window driving down the interstate. Following is one of the sweetest damned love songs I’ve heard in a bit, “For the Rest of the Summer.” The track starts off with an old-timey carnival intro, then drops into a syncopated, heartfelt list of accolades directed at a carefree lover. The song works because Swim avoids being cloying or sappy, but instead, seems envious. It’s a cool way to tell someone you love them.
While there is enough consistency from track to track to create a sense of cohesion throughout this EP, there is also enough variation to allow for standout tracks. For me, “Ode to a Trembling Man” is that standout track. In it, Swim details his admiration for a former mentor who has presumably been arrested for engaging in political protest. He uses this character sketch to address a feeling many people have right now: that of admiring those fighting the good fight, while acknowledging and being frustrated with our own complicity in not speaking out and acting ourselves. Lyrics and theme aside, the track also showcases Swim’s maturing talents as a producer and arranger.
Early in the album, Swim sings, “I should talk less, climb more, need to fall on my face/More projects, more process, more progress, more grace.” It’s clear that Swim has not only grown as an artist, but is committed to continuing to grow. I look forward to seeing where he takes things next — but for now, I’m content to keep bobbing my head to this one.
This article was originally published in Little Village issue 246.