John Fullbright - Songs
One of the best genre albums of 2012, From The Ground Up was a high energy, rambunctious introduction to the new Americana skills of John Fullbright. The Oklahoma native earned Grammy nominations and plenty of critical props for his debut and built up a steady following in the UK through hard graft and getting out on the road. You wonder whether the sales of this record might suffer from its US release back in May and the consequence of that - i.e. fans importing the album. Wherever you purchase the album you’re investing in a young man that feels passionate about his work; his interviews supporting this release almost solely focus on the creative process for the album.
Expectations are high, sunny blue sky high in fact, this second time round. And as if to reign those in just a little the Oklahoman takes a different tack on Songs. That title should give you a clue; the big production and ramshackle singalongs are jettisoned, replaced by quiet, more personal tunes. The odd similarities remain: ‘Happy’, about the songwriter's need to feel pain to find inspiration; ‘High Road’, the story of a life told in seven minutes, and ‘Going Home’ are the most obvious. Mainly though, the new songs are quietly reflective. It’s still obviously a John Fullbright record - he’s not gone punk or reggae - but it is musically, if not emotionally, restrained. ‘She Knows’ and ‘Until You’re Gone’ are love songs of the purest kind, Fullbright laying his heart on the line. There are no songwriting tricks here, no metaphors or hidden meaning. What you see is what you get, and sometimes less is indeed more.