Stream: Jonathan Rado, ‘Easier’

Jonathan Rado

Made it as far as the bridge of Jonathan Rado’s new song “Easier” before the eyes got misty. Richard Swift, more than five years gone now, must be looking down from heaven and smiling. Impishly.

Rado, the singer-songwriter-producer (formerly one-half of the duo Foxygen), worked with Swift, notably on Foxygen’s 2012 and 2013 albums. It’s a sweet homage to the “circus music” of Swift, the pop auteur who once told Buzz Bands (with a gleam in his eye), “My thing is vaudeville from a Kinks perspective.”

The song is one of four singles released thus far from Rado’s new solo album, audaciously titled “For Who the Bell Tolls For.” The album is out this Friday, offering a ride as wild as its grammatically challenged title through Rado’s take on classic pop and rock, at times seeming like Randy Newman on a Todd Rundgren bender and at others flipping glam on its buns. It all seems done with crooked smile and a heartfelt embrace, right down to the 7-minute dirge that ends the album.

Of “Easier,” Rado says, “I wrote it late one night in 2019 at the studio after finding this bouncy piano riff that reminded me of a certain type of R. Swift song (see “Dirty Jim”, “Songs of National Freedom”, “Song for Milton Feher”). It was one of those songs that comes out fully formed, and I wrote it start to finish in about 20 minutes, loudly sobbing in my voice memos as the chorus came out (Swift would always say that everything was “2EZ”).” The song features Swift’s brother, Jonathan Swift Behr, among the background vocalists.

“For Who the Bell Tolls For” also honors another friend Rado lost the year after Swift’s passing, illustrator/animator Danny Lacy, who is obliquely referenced in “Blue Moon.”

In the album announcement, Rado says he wanted to avoid making a sappy musical eulogy for his two friends. He has made one, though, that is reverent, irreverently.

||| Stream: “Easier”

||| Also: Stream “Don’t Wait Too Long,” “Blue Moon” and “Farther Away”

||| Live: Jonathan Rado performs Dec. 19 at Zebulon. Tickets.