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Album Review

The debut record from indie singer/songwriter Ben Swift is pleasant but tentative; his mild singing and mild melodies prove only somewhat entertaining. Most representative of the lot, for better and for worse, is opening track "Is This What You Want," a lover's lament that's equal parts Shawn Colvin and Sean Lennon, and wouldn't have been out of place on the latter's contemporaneous Friendly Fire album. Elsewhere Swift keeps things a little too calm and collected, with only a handful of the 14 tracks showing personality and urgency. Skip the self-indulgent "Happy Song," a failed attempt at cleverness, and enjoy the simple elegance of "Miss You," and the welcome passion of "Volcano" and the title track (which includes perhaps rock's first ever mention of a bris in the lyric). Swift's voice is an inexpressive instrument; when at last he sings outward rather than inward, on "Grass Is Not So Green," the limitations to his voice are easily detected, but at least he's testing them. Pull doesn't have enough fully realized ideas to sustain interest, but it has enough strong moments to recommend Swift as one to watch among the '00s crop of sadcore troubadours.

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