A self-taught, multi-instrumentalist and producer who grew up on a farm in Minnesota, Richard Swift has been writing songs since childhood. He began his recording adventures on his brother's four-track machine in his teens and by 15 had a playlist - My Bloody Valentine, Nick Drake and Paul McCartney - which belied his tender years. Of his devotion to his craft through good times and bad he says: "I could probably have learned other trades, and maybe been happy or tricked myself into thinking I was happy, but I honestly believe my purpose in life is music." It only takes one listen to agree.

Swift was a member of the early 1990s group Starflyer 59 and later worked as a session musician, where he began working on songs for his own solo debut. That record, 'Walking Without Effort', was released in 2001 and was followed by 'The Novelist', with both then re-released as 'The Richard Swift Collection, Volume 1' in the US in 2005 and Europe in 2006. During these years Smith found himself like many before him: a struggling musician who became the object of the music industry's attention only to find himself let down time and time again.

Compared by some to a lo-fi Rufus Wainwright, Smith travels far beyond such quick and convenient comparisons with his new, brilliantly titled major label debut, 'Dressed Up for the Letdown'. Not only is it a musical triumph for Swift, it also reflects his victory over personal and professional adversity, having suffered a nervous breakdown some years previously. Of his experiences on life's downside he says: "the record is about my relationship with the record industry and how I let circumstances get on top of me - but also how I had the whole situation turn around. Once I got my confidence back, and I had my family cheering me on, my health was returned to me." Long may it last.