Swampdawamp is back. This North Carolina based Southern Rock band really and truly does “keep it real.” They have the guitars, the licks and attitude, but they also possess that rare element that is so rare in music these days. They are originals.
There has been a lot of talk over the past couple of years about lead singer Gig Michaels and his one of a kind voice. It even took me a while to appreciate his singing. Much like the first time I heard Jim Dandy Mangrum - or Dylan for that matter. Nowadays I can’t get enough of it. Especially on this new release.
The Swamp boys kick it up several notches on their new album, musically and as songwriters. From the opening track “Lady,” with it’s infectious groove to the tale of picking up a girl who smokes Lucky Strikes and wears a push up bra (“Helluva Night”) the album is a Southern Rock party from start to finish.
“Double or Nothin” is another great tune. The lyrics are so cool - “she got a bullet in the magazine/I just can’t leave her alone/I’m in double or nothin.”
I honestly cannot name a song on the album that I don’t like. Really. From “Good God” to “Six Tons” to “Half My Life” (with it’s killer slide guitar) to what is probably my favorite, “American Man,” a song that hits the nail squarely on the head with it’s lyrics, including Gig’s recitation in the middle of the song about pledging allegiance to the flag, the importance of traditional family and the right to bear arms. Not to mention the red, hot and righteous guitar in that one. Sheesh.
“Daddy Said” really spoke to my heart in much the same way that Ronnie’s “Simple Man” did the first time I heard it. Beginning with a breathtakingly beautiful piano intro, it is a song about the lessons learned from a parent and reflecting on those lessons at the time of their passing.
“Shame” is equally great and “Welcome to the Inn” possesses more of the good natured fun Swampdawamp is becoming known for.
There are hints of Billy Gibbons influence in Gig’s vocal on songs like the aforementioned “Helluva Night,” and the kick ass title track “Rock This Country.” A little ZZ, a little Skynyrd, but always original.
The album closes with a tribute to dope smoking and its influence on writers, artists and musicians throughout history called “Stoned.” Gig drops names like Willie, Cash, Jones, Hemingway and Poe and hits the mark with lyrics like “You can’t lead the way when you’re in the caboose.” These guys are some fine songwriters, dude.
One of the finest albums of the year, Rock This Country should be on your essentials list. Get a ticket on the Swampdawamp express, and be prepared to ride for a while. It’s not a smooth ride all the time, but is sure as hell a fun journey.
-Michael Buffalo Smith