Much has transpired in the three years since The Black Swans recorded "Don't Blame the Stars."
First, violinist Noel Sayre died in a swimming pool accident three months after recording his parts. That sent friend and bandmate Jerry DeCicca into a year of stunned reflection, from which the sideburned singer-songwriter emerged with unprecedented vigor for writing, recording and touring.
Besides playing hundreds of shows around the world, the Columbus folk freaks released a newer LP, "Words Are Stupid." Another project is in the can. Material for a country album is piling up.
So "Don't Blame the Stars," which finally saw release this week via Misra Records, is pretty far back in the band's queue. Yet as Friday's release show at Rumba Cafe approaches, the album's "agnostic power ballads" resonate as powerfully as ever with DeCicca.
"The whole thing's about music and about identity and about your relationships with your friends and yourself," DeCicca said, "and how you gain meaning from that."
Despite frequent shape-shifting, The Black Swans are known for crawling tempos, Sayre's doleful violin lines and DeCicca's unmistakable bellow. "Don't Blame the Stars" has all of that, yet it's much brighter and more rambunctious.
The record's quirky sense of humor colors spoken-word intros that accompany select tracks, a trick borrowed from 1970s singer-songwriter albums.
"There's an art to the spoken word parts on the record. They start out normal, then they gradually get weirder and almost like poems by the end of it," DeCicca said.
Monologues about favorite R&B singers and the pleasures of urinating outside are a far cry from The Black Swans' "stoic" first album. But there are still heavy ideas in play.
"How successful I think gospel music is for people that are not religious depends on the sincerity of the song and the delivery," DeCicca said. "And I feel like this record's the same thing I think that it's a sincere record."