John Fullbright

John Fullbright
From The Ground Up

Blue Dirt Records B007MMS21S

By David Wilson
April 2013

While not a lot of attention has been given to John Fullbright as a blues performer, in many ways, for me he epitomizes the blues, folk blues, root blues, in his case Red Dirt Blues.

From The Ground Up, nominated for a Grammy, generated the same chills, the same sense of wonder as when I first heard Bob Dylan’s first LP of original material, the same awe that I experienced when I first heard Eleanor Rigby by the Beatles. Yep, one listening and I was a believer.

In earlier reviews I have stated that to be credible, blues must be passionate, poetic and personal. Every song on this CD meets those criteria from the opening admonition, “Gawd Above” all the way through to the closing lullaby, “Song For A Child.”

Yes, John is more Songster than Bluesman, but then, most of the great bluesmen were. I could not imagine him with his musical sensibilities limiting himself to rigid forms when he has ideas that far exceed the boundaries of any fixed form, the creative genius to synthesize gospel, blues, ballads and the aforesaid lullabies into a genre too expansive to be, collectively, anything but Fullbright.

Others have claimed to hear echoes of Jimmy Webb and Merle Haggard in his performance; his farm boy roots in Woody Guthrie’s home stomping ground are touted. I sense Dylan, John Prine and oddly enough, here and there, the sensibilities of another Oklahoma songwriter, Tom Paxton. However, make no mistakes, Fullbright is an original and is no imitation of anyone else.

With a voice as distinctive as they come, timbre many would kill for, an intuitive talent for natural and near-perfect phrasing, he is as compelling a vocalist as any new performer I have heard in the last few years.

As an accompanist, having reputedly learned to play piano at five, his performance on guitar, harmonica, bass, organ and piano adds brilliant support to his singing. Add to that the ability to write intelligent, coherent and meaningful lyrics and it is no wonder, if somewhat of a surprise, that this self produced CD received its nomination in the Grammy’s.

Such praise, I hope, will tempt you to go listen for yourself. You can do that at the following sites:

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