Veteran swamp pop sideman Junior Dugas recorded these dozen tracks as something intended only for friends and family. That is, until swamp pop legends Tommy McLain, Warren Storm and Johnnie Allan urged him to put it out. His unexpected debut reveals a deep affinity for classic swamp pop, with bouncy beats and rolling horns, while breathing new life into such chestnuts as Guitar Gable’s “Irene” and Tommy McLain’s “I’ll Change My Style.”
And speaking of McLain, he certainly has a presence here. Not only did Dugas thump the bass for McLain for a spell, he also pays homage to him with “Tribute to Tommy McLain,” an original that strings together lyrics from 27 of his songs. Dugas goes further by being the first to record McLain’s “We Have a Party Here,” which previously was only a live show staple.
For a debut record, Dugas sure comes up with some dandies, like spinning the crossover standard “Release Me” with a jitterbug tempo. Gene Autry’s WWII hit “At Mail Call Today” is given royal swamp pop treatment. There’s even a song attributed to Aldus Roger, “Be Careful You’re Breaking My Heart,” which fuses trad dancehall Cajun with swamp pop keyboards.
Of Dugas’ three originals, the title track is indeed the deepest—a sincere profession of love that conceivably could become a regional wedding day staple. With this, the horse has been let out of the barn and it’ll be interesting to see where it trots next.