I Need a Job...So I Can Buy More Auto-Tune
If any latter-day career revival was worth examination, it’s that of Swamp Dogg, the profanely grungy and raunchily political blues and soul singer making lo-fi, indie-label albums since 1970’s Total Destruction to Your Mind. Dependably swampy and certainly satirical with a deep Southern twist, by 1989 the Dogg hiding behind Jerry Williams Jr. changed his sheen and his sound by including synthesizers and drum machines on I Called for a Rope and They Threw Me a Rock, then went full-speed ahead into studio frippery and mod-electronica with 2018's Love, Loss, and Auto-Tune.
Never a man to resist a trend, even when it's post-dated (see 1991’s Surfin' in Harlem for proof), Dogg has continued along the lines sketched out by that 2018 album—gruffly sung social commentary with electro nods toward hip-hop and nu-R&B—with his latest album on its title track. Here, an Auto-Tuned-up Dogg laments the pandemic’s financial woes with lines such as, “I need a job worse than a dead man needs a coffin,” and a sonic vibe drenched in funk and roboticism.
Along with that steeliness, however, Dogg’s 808s & Heartbreak–inspired soul does contain a live, reed-driven-band feel, and the past’s traditions of oversexed bravura on unfaithful-man tracks such as “Cheating in the Daylight,” “Cheating All Over Again,” (notice the theme here), and “I Need Your Body.” Overworked, misogynistic lyrics from a 78-year-old, even if they’re intended to be humorous, frankly, aren’t, and these songs fall flat. That said, the genuinely impassioned heart, joy, and need within the sauntering likes of “She Got That Fire” (with its exaltation of “When she looks at you, it’s like sunshine from her eyes”), “Show Me,” and “Soul to Blessed Soul” portray Swamp as a man of conviction and honor, apart from the dated tropes of sexism and womanizing. With that, this old Dogg proves that he can learn even newer tricks than just fiddling with digitally enhancing knobs and Auto-Tune switches.