Georgia soul singer Teddy Swims finds healing in performing his pain

Ahead of his Tabernacle shows, Swims talks about his debut album and vulnerability.
Conyers soul singer Teddy Swims will perform two shows at the Tabernacle on Nov. 21 and 22. His debut album, "I've Tried Everything but Therapy (Part 1)," dropped in September. (Credit: Chapman Baehler)

Credit: Chapman Baehler

Credit: Chapman Baehler

Conyers soul singer Teddy Swims will perform two shows at the Tabernacle on Nov. 21 and 22. His debut album, "I've Tried Everything but Therapy (Part 1)," dropped in September. (Credit: Chapman Baehler)

For Teddy Swims, pouring his heart to fans every night while on tour is therapeutic. It makes him feel like the aching honesty he shared in his music doesn’t go in vain.

“It’s just crazy to see a lot of familiar faces and see people connecting with the songs and singing back these songs and just seeing it activate people’s lives,” he said. “We do this meet and greet where I meet 100 fans a night and they just tell me stories about how, like, it’s got me through this divorce or we got married to your song or just stuff like that. It makes it feel like I’m doing the right thing.”

The singer is currently touring his debut album “I’ve Tried Everything but Therapy (Part 1).” He’ll stop in Atlanta for two shows at the Tabernacle on Tuesday and Wednesday. The album, which dropped in September, is 10 songs worth of sprawling emotional depth and agony. Swims’ raspy tone floats on heartbreak ballads so freely and grandiose that the crevices of his pain feel palpable.

“I’ve Tried Everything but Therapy” contains songs like his breakout hit “Lose Control,” which captures the stifling intensity of a relationship that’s too codependent for its own good (”I lose control/ When you’re not next to me/ I’m fallin’ apart right in front of you. Can’t you see?,” he wails on the chorus).

Then there’s “Some Things I’ll Never Know,” the album’s opener, awash in melancholic chords that center a deep mourning for the closure you won’t receive.

Teddy Swims, a Conyers native, is inspired by the vocal delivery of Georgia soul giants like James Brown and Otis Redding. Swims will perform songs from his debut album at the Tabernacle on Nov. 21 and 22. (Credit: Aaron Marsh)

Credit: Aaron Marsh

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Credit: Aaron Marsh

“I don’t know if closure actually exists,” said Swims, 31. “When people leave, they leave you with questions of why would they do this or why would they hurt (you), and you never get those answers from someone that walked out of your life, so it’s kind of up to you to reconcile within yourself what happened (and) why that happened.”

The song clearly means a lot to Swims, and maybe that’s why he’s releasing a remix of the song with Maren Morris — a duet that enhances the dazzling anguish of the original.

“I think there’s a clarity in that song that you just arrive at the acceptance of you just won’t know some things,” he said. “I still haven’t really sang it without crying, but I think it’s a good day to cry and it’s a good day to heal, and I’m healing every day.”

At the core of Swims’ vulnerable croons, is his voice. It’s a texture so gritty that you can hear just how heartbroken he is. Georgia’s rich legacy of soul music inspires the Conyers native, born Jaten Dimsdale, to make his voice the star of the show.

“We had everything from Ray Charles to Otis Redding to James Brown,” said Swims, who now lives in Los Angeles. “It all came from Georgia. I mean, you got OutKast, you got T.I., you got Jeezy, you got Gucci Mane, you got these rappers that come from Georgia. (You got) Usher, and then you have country music. So much country music also comes out of Georgia. I think Georgia just truly has always been the place of real music and like a melting pot of real music and cultures and people and sounds.”

Since the release of “I’ve Tried Everything but Therapy (Part 1),” Swims admits he hasn’t tried therapy yet, but he plans to soon. He hopes the album will encourage listeners to reflect on the challenges in their own lives.

“I think with this generation, people are finally starting to have the conversation and openly discuss mental health,” he said. “I think there’s some sort of generational mindset where people were like ‘I’m not crazy,’ or ‘I’m not going to therapy,’ and I think you could benefit anybody. I think it’s good for anybody.”

Swims also plans to release the second part of the album that he hopes will focus on more positivity in his love life. But, for now, he’s excited to share his music with Atlanta fans.

“(It’ll be) a safe place, and a good homecoming,” he said. “You can probably expect that I’m gonna be hammered. It’s gonna be a reunion with all my family and friends and it’s just gonna be a safe place and a great environment for all of us just to come together. We’re gonna laugh and we’re gonna cry and we’re gonna feel all the feelings, you know.”


Teddy Swims

With Freak Freely and special guest Elley Duhé. 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 21, and Wednesday, Nov. 22. $40-$400. The Tabernacle, 152 Luckie St. NW, Atlanta. 404-659-9022,