Soulful singer Teddy Swims lets his guard down with new music – Boston Herald

Teddy Swims says his goal is to be more open and vulnerable in his music and his life.

He certainly was practicing what he was preaching in this recent phone interview, as he opened up about the emotions and circumstances behind the songs on his current studio album, “I’ve Tried Everything But Therapy (Part 1).” Swims delivered an impressive performance, opening the KIIS 102.7/FM Jingle Ball at Kia Forum in Inglewood back in December, and returns to the area to headline Yaamava’ Theater in Highland on Saturday, March 23.

Swims’ debut album, which arrived on Sept. 15, 2023, came after the Atlanta area native (real name Jaten Dimsdale) had already become an artist to watch thanks to his considerable notoriety and success online, where in 2019 he launched his music career by posting videos of his versions of cover songs. His selections ran the gamut — from R&B/soul (Mario’s “Let Me Love You”) to pop (Michael Jackson’s “Rock With You”) to rock (Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’”) and country (Shania Twain’s “You’re Still The One”) — showcasing his supple, slightly sandy voice while racking up hundreds of millions of views along the way. By the end of 2020, he had a major label deal with Warner Records.

Teddy Swims performs onstage at iHeartRadio 102.7 KIIS FM's Jingle Ball 2023 Presented by Capital One at The Kia Forum on December 01, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for iHeartRadio)
Teddy Swims performs onstage at iHeartRadio 102.7 KIIS FM’s Jingle Ball 2023 Presented by Capital One at The Kia Forum on December 01, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for iHeartRadio)

As he maintained his online presence, Swims began to write original material, and in rapid succession, released three EPs, “Unlearning” (2021), “Tough Love” (2022) and “Sleep Is Exhausting” (also 2022).

By the time he was ready to record “I’ve Tried Everything But Therapy (Part 1),” he had written or co-written more than 400 songs.

“You don’t always write good ones, so there are a lot of them that aren’t contenders and never will be,” Swims said in a recent interview. “But I think some of those also informed some of the best songs I did write. Like a lot of the songs we wrote at this camp in Palm Springs that was like the last (time) I wrote before we put the record together. A lot of the album came from that one five-day stint, which was quite nuts. I think maybe we just had this energy there and by that time I knew what I wanted the album to kind of say and be and shape up to be. So, I think we kind of just laid more into what to write around that feeling.”

Swims said one song in particular, “Some Things I’ll Never Know,” with its key lines “When did your heart let me go/Guess some things I’ll never know,” set the tone for “I’ve Tried Everything But Therapy.”

“When it fell into my lap, it just moved me so much. I’ll never forget recording it. It took me so long to record it because I was just crying and crying as I was doing it,” Swims said. “I felt like it really healed me, and it’s a song about not getting closure. And you don’t get closure from people when they leave your life a lot of times. I think to some degree, closure is something that doesn’t exist, with relationships ending and you don’t know why people do the things they do and why people hurt you and it’s not about you when they hurt you, either.

“That’s really, I guess, what I’ve always been having a hard time with was closure in past relationships and relationships I’m currently in,” Swims said. “So I think once that song came in, I was certain that I wanted to talk about that and I wanted to discuss that as much as possible and make this album about healing and about asking for help and knowing that I’m not crazy for feeling the way I’m feeling. It’s OK to feel this way. So I think that song informed everything I wanted to say, and everything else just started falling into place right behind it.”

In a larger sense, Swims said the new album reflects his efforts to reach a healthier place mentally with his life.

Teddy Swims performs during the KIIS Jingle Ball Village at The Kia Forum on December 01, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for iHeartRadio)
Teddy Swims performs during the KIIS Jingle Ball Village at The Kia Forum on December 01, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for iHeartRadio)

“I want to be more open and honest with the people who listen to me and with myself,” he said. “I just wanted to be more vulnerable than I have been in the past because I feel like as much as I have the opportunity to do music for a living and people hear my feelings, there’s always been a difference between Teddy Swims and Jaten Dimsdale. I want to marry those two and I want to be myself and fully myself and vulnerable and kind of a glass house for people that are looking in and want to know.

“I want to use my platform to ask for help and to tell people it’s OK to ask for help and tell people it’s OK to be vulnerable and to hurt, and if there’s not an answer that I have for you, there’s at least someone who’s also going through the same thing and you’re not crazy for feeling that way,” Swims elaborated. “I hope that this album is some sort of a relief, or just a friend that’s there feeling the same way for them, you know.”

Swims said he feels he’s made considerable progress in getting to a healthier place as a person.

“I think I’ve learned a lot about self love and liking myself and feeling like I deserve love and feeling like I deserve to be loved and I am lovable,” he said. “I think I was struggling with that for a really long time. And I still struggle a lot with that, but I’ve had a lot of help and a lot of mentorship over the years and a lot of friends who are here reaffirming me and giving me reassurance constantly that I deserve what I have and I deserve to be here and I am lovable and I’m beautiful person. I try to do more things to tell myself that as much as possible.

“So I definitely learned a lot about self love and self worth and self work and unlearning some things and re-learning some things and just doing a lot of work on myself,” Swims said. “I think it’s made the biggest difference in my life.”

Musically, the consistently enjoyable “I’ve Tried Everything But Therapy (Part 1)” finds Swims growing more focused stylistically. While it still touches on several genres, the album overall leans toward classic soul with a modern sound. The songs “Goodbye’s Been Good to You,” “The Door,” “Lose Control” (a multi-genre Top 5 single) and “What More Can I Say” have strong grooves, a good bit of energy and highly melodic vocal lines. The other songs are ballads, and they are a strong suit for Swims and the palpable emotion he brings to his songs.

“I think you can safely say this is a soul record, and even if it bleeds into other worlds and other genres, I think the thing you can always say about anything I do is it will be soul music, for sure,” Swims said.

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