In the winter of 2019, bona fide soul man Jerry “Swamp Dogg” Williams made his return to Nashville after nearly 50 years away from Music City. His aim was to cut a new record, and a slew of artists joined him in collaboration, chief among them guitarist Jim Oblon, singer/songwriter Justin Vernon, and the late great John Prine. The music that came from those winter sessions feels like a time machine right back to the late 1960s.
The album, titled Sorry You Couldn’t Make It, is a shade more country than Swamp Dogg’s other material, but his warm, rough voice wears his many years on its sleeve, allowing him to sit comfortably in the common core of soul, country, and blues. Portions of the album have moxie for miles while others hold abundant sincerity and sadness. NPR’s Fresh Air reviewed one song, “Sleeping Without You is a Dragg,” which was joined by two other selections from other artists classified as beautiful, comforting songs. A reminiscent sound ties the whole record together beautifully.
A Noisey mini-documentary about the star-studded recording sessions for Sorry You Couldn’t Make It shows humorous, casual, behind-the-scenes moments from the album’s creation. While Dogg had the bad luck of the COVID-19 lockdown slow its rollout, don’t let this music slip through the cracks of your social media timelines!
Photo credit: David McMurry