Swamp Dogg – “I’ll Pretend” (Feat. Justin Vernon) Video

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.

Love, Loss, And Auto-Tune is out 9/7 on Joyful Noise. We should’ve known something like this might happen after Swamp Dogg showed up on a Mouse On Mars album earlier this year.