Swamp Dogg is a gutbucket-soul legend, an artist who pushed his genre as far as it would go in the ’70s. The man born Jerry Williams, Jr. started out as a fairly traditional ’60s soul singer and songwriter, but he came into his own when he became a wild, expressive showman, developing a whole outsider persona and releasing albums like Total Destruction To Your Mind and Gag A Maggot. If you’ve never heard his 1972 cover of John Prine’s “Sam Stone,” do yourself a favor.
This fall, Swamp Dogg will return. He could come back doing the standard elder-statesman thing, making an album of warm traditionalism. Instead, he’s teamed up with Ryan Olson, of the Minneapolis synth-rock band Poliça. With Olson as producer, Swamp Dogg has recorded the new LP Love, Loss, And Auto-Tune, using present-day technology to push his voice into strange new places. First single “I’ll Pretend” is a duet with Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon, and it’s an intense, otherworldly track that balances blues guitar and soulful vocals with ominous electronic drones and scraped-out Terminator textures. It’s fucking awesome.
The song’s video, which Olson directed with Isaac Gale, works as a cinematic ode to loneliness. Swamp Dogg wakes up in a room full of gold records and shrink-wrapped stuffed animals, hangs out by an empty pool, puts on his crispy uniform to go out into the world, and goes home alone. Check it out below.