About a year ago, (or longer…time escapes me) I had the pleasure of catching John Fullbright play a show with Sam Baker and Natalia Zukerman at a local club here in Columbia, South Carolina. I’d never heard of Fullbright, but I enjoyed his songs as much or more than Baker’s, the reason I’d came to the show. His memorable hooks, superb musicianship, and engaging lyrics hit a nerve and I was looking forward to hearing a proper debut. I’m glad to say that From the Ground Up is just that.
The twelve songs, many filled with religious imagery, are solid and I often caught myself referencing Jason Isbell’s debut album a few years back. Fullbright’s songwriting is just as strong and the production qualities are similar, albeit there is more harmonica here than on an Isbell record. Standouts include “Satan and St. Paul”, “Moving”, and “Gawd Above”, along with “All the Time in The World”, which features some of my favorite lyrics from the disc:
Moses was a man of action, action
He slapped the water and it turned to blood
I ain’t no kind of leader for reaction, no son
I know when to leave when the leaving’s good
There’s also the tune “Jericho,” (which could also be titled Walls) a song I instantly remembered from the Baker show, and I challenge you to listen and not go away singing the chorus for days on end.
Audio Stream: John Fullbright, “Jericho”
On that night I saw Fullbright perform, I remembered Baker making the comment that John was from Okemah, Oklahoma, home of Woody Guthrie, and this is also in the second sentence of Fullbright’s online bio and mentioned in many of the pieces I have read on him. I guess everyone has to have an angle, but I could care less where the boy is from. He can obviously craft a damn fine song.
RIYL: Barns, Yard Sales, The Seattle Supersonics
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