Swamp Dogg – Sorry You Couldn’t Make it (Joyful Noise Recordings)

Swamp Dogg – Sorry You Couldn’t Make it (Joyful Noise Recordings)

The man who was born Jerry Williams Jr. in Portsmouth, Virginia in the United States of America nearly 78 years ago and who for the last half century has traded under the artistic sobriquet of Swamp Dogg is about to release his 23rd album in that guise. The previous 22 had seen a man for whom the term musical maverick was practically invented build an often eccentric and outrageous public persona on a firm foundation of traditional R&B, deep southern soul and funk, yet still possess the playfulness, imagination and invention to embrace modern technology and electronics on his last long-player the mercurial Love, Loss, and Auto-Tune.

This time round on Sorry You Couldn’t Make It, Swamp Dogg decides to bring it all back home by returning to his very first musical love, country. This is the man who, after all, as a six year old when first performing in public at a local talent show chose to sing Mr. Country Music himself, Red Foley’s version of ‘Peace in the Valley.’

 Recorded at Nashville’s Sound Emporium with the American synth-pop band Poliça’s producer Ryan Olson once more at the controls (he was also at the helm for 2018’s Love, Loss, and Auto-Tune) and a strong supporting cast including Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon, Jenny Lewis and legendary country artist John Prine, on Sorry You Couldn’t Make It Swamp Dogg goes right back to his roots.

Swamp Dogg returns to 1970 and ‘Don’t Take Her (She’s All I Got)’ a song he wrote that year with his great pal the American R&B shouter Gary U.S. Bonds and which has since been covered by most every country singer from Loretta Lynn and Johnny Paycheck to Conway Twitty and George Jones. Here Swamp Dogg reclaims it as his very own, infusing the song’s sentiments with what is genuine heart-rending emotion. Never a man to undersell himself, in a recent interview in Uncut magazine Swamp Dogg said “my voice is 100 times better (now) than it was in the 1960s to the 1980s.” This one song alone is firm testament to his assertion.

Yet Swamp Dogg replicates this feeling time and time again right throughout Sorry You Couldn’t Make It. With those familiar country staples of heartbreak, loneliness and desolation to the fore, the album’s opening track and lead single ‘Sleeping Without You Is A Dragg’ sets both the tone and benchmark for the record. A little later ‘I’d Rather Be Your Used To Be’ and the supreme country-soul ballad ‘Billy’ continue down that lovelorn lost highway. It is clear that Swamp Dogg is a man who understands both the character and tradition of country. You can hear it in his voice, it’s resonance and depth a perfect embodiment of all that human emotion.

Sorry You Couldn’t Make It is released on the 6th of March 2020 on Joyful Noise Recordings.

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