Arts & Entertainment

Press Pass: Michelle Swan

MICHELLE SWAN (Courtesy Photo)

All of you were probably on some kind of favorable trajectory prior to the coronavirus upsetting your apple cart. Maybe you were about to get the hang of that new skill you’d been taking classes for, or were finally building up the courage to get a fresh start in a new city…before your life was frozen for 14 months, that is.

However, for those who were lucky enough to avoid the pandemic’s worst outcomes in unemployment or death, it’s unlikely you suffered the secondary pangs that singer Michelle Swan did.

“I like to joke when I play that my third record came out [on] Covid day one,” Swan said wryly. “I literally remember getting the box of CDs dropped off at my work, and a week later my friend wasn’t feeling well.”

The February 2020 release of “I Feel” was naturally going to be followed by a promotional tour around the region, until that all had to be put on hold. Now Swan has been making up for lost time, with her latest stop coming to Falls Church Distillers tonight.

Wait one second — let’s not paint Swann as some victim who spent the year looking for couches to faint on. She made it clear to the News-Press that she didn’t dwell on her unfortunate timing for long, saying that she had been raised to recognize the gratitude for everything she did have.

And she had a lot. She never got sick, and she still was able to put food on the table. Maybe most surprising for Swan was her typical troubles in writing songs vanished during the lockdown as she cranked out five new pieces.

But that wasn’t a balm for the struggles of leaving stage shows behind for livestreams, which created its own kind of misery.

“I was probably bordering on a little bit of a minor depression, as were a lot of my [songwriting] colleagues,” Swan said. “We were just trying to find ways to connect. I was not one that did the online stuff; I could not do it. I mean, I did a couple of them, but I’m just fueled by an audience in my performances.”

One of those scant virtual performances was her new album’s title track.

The song’s raw lyrics and frenetic acoustic guitar convey a cry for help, making the tune’s (fittingly) grateful closing message come across even as a surprise to the artist.

When she’s not playing her originals, Swan is covering everyone from The Beatles to Jack Johnson to Kenny Loggins, and tries to keep the split between her own music and covers 50/50 during her sets.

Falls Church Distillers has become somewhat of a home base for the longtime regional artist. And Swan’s using that platform to fulfill her role as the “elevator” by bringing some up and coming talent to perform with her. That includes Jillian Matundan and Cherith Yuly, the vocalist for Honky Tonk Casanovas, who will be joining Swan at the distillery.

So those who do make their way over will be treated to not one, but three artists who’ve distinguished themselves in their own right. Though, word to the wise, if you get the urge to tell Swan she reminds you of Melissa Etheridge, it’s best to keep that to yourself.

Michelle Swan will be playing at Falls Church Distillers (442 S Washington St A, Falls Church) tonight at 6 p.m. For more information, visit fcdistillers.com.