When you write for a group of impeccable players fronted by an overpowering singer, you're lucky anyone notices your songs at all. The now-defunct One Fell Swoop wasn't one of St. Louis' best bands because they could pick and sing. They had songs in spades, the kind that stand with the best of our better-known roots-oriented writers. Together Andy Ploof and John Wendland wrote tunes like "Broke Down," "Evening Stranger," "Black Ice" and "Sweet Relief" -- in other words, much of the band's finest material. "We don't get together and get a lot done," Wendland says with predictable modesty. "When Andy's halfway through with something, then I'll finish it, and vice versa. We'll bounce ideas off each other, deciding whether something is too obvious or whether it fits well. With a song like 'Sweet Relief,' Andy wrote a surprising melody; it could have been something from the Velvet Underground." One Fell Swoop may be no more, but Ploof and Wendland continue to craft careful, wise, even classic songs that finger the edgy line between country, folk and great American rock.
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