John Fullbright is a new name to me, and who has seen his recording career start in quite a unique way. In that his Live At The Blue Door is not only his debut but as the title suggests a live album. Many acts with a line of albums to their name and the success to go with it never get round or, have the courage to record live. Hailing from Okemah, Oklahoma the home place of the late folk legend, Woody Guthrie Fullbright is influenced by him along with a good few more as in such acts as John Prine. In that he too is a storyteller. A hint or two of Bob Dylan can be detected on the opening song ‘Moving’ (but Fullbright is just an much styled in a similar fashion to the likes of newer acts Jeffrey Foucault etc) and he is also a fan of Leonard Cohen. It is his song ‘Hallelujah’ that closes the record.
Without him selling out or allowing his music clone another act Fullbright puts folk, country and blues to excellent use without becoming any specific one. With fourteen songs featured the listener is given a fine introduction to the work of the Oklahoma singer-songwriter who though only just turned twenty he sounds and writes material beyond his tender years. As highlighted in the splendid, lazy rolling ‘Blameless’ where his excellent phrasing reminds me of someone but as yet can’t put my name to it. However it is still a great country song.
His bio mentions how he started out in Mike McClure’s band and also played, solo the local bars. Doing covers of Hoyt Axton, Townes Van Zandt and Cohen and if the album is anything to go by, thrill the audience with his fine playing of acoustic guitar. One of the best examples of this being ‘Somebody Else’s Name’ that has some sweet Doc Watson-esque flat-picking during its intro and there are other occasions that see him impress in the department, ‘Satan & St. Paul’. Plus, is that shades of the late, great Mickey Newbury I hear on ‘New Arrival’ such is the out-pouring of sadness and regret. Newbury couldn’t have done it better; plus there is the timbre to his voice, boy how I love the harmonica. If like me you enjoy a sad country song every now and then this is a must here classic; all the hallmarks are there. Heart tugging lyrics, phrasing and jolting guitar that like the former shake you down to the soles in your shoes and the earth beneath you!
There are others too. As in ‘All That You Know’ that has him tear up his heart once again and ‘High Road’ that sees two takes, one where he speaks of his upbringing etc and how the song came about. The other is the real deal, and at six and a half minutes a marathon affair —that only high-grade storytellers can get away with. At a time when we are looking and needed new faces to fill the boots of old warriors then I would recommend you check out John Fullbright and then, watch his music and career grow.
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