G. Love | Has the Blues

"Being on stage is like being on drugs.  It’s a really euphoric thing. You get hooked on it."  

 

 

 

 

When G. Love – also known as Garrett Dutton – released Fixin To Die earlier this year, he knew it was different from anything else he had recorded.  That was, after all, the point.  This album was to be, as he describes it, a “Delta blues” album – something far removed from the hip-hop blues he’s become known for over the last two decades.  The more rootsy blues isn’t new to him, despite the vast difference when compared to his previous work.  While the album took just nine days to record, it was, as he is quick to point out, twenty years in the making.  “It feels kinda like coming home, you know?” he asked me when we had a chance to talk and discuss both the album, his music as a whole, and life on the road. 
 
It does seem like the album is a return to his roots – or to home, as he called it several times.  He’s been playing guitar for most of his life, long before the creation of the band G. Love and Special Sauce, and he says this album is more like the music he plays when he’s off the road. When the label said they wanted a blues record, he jumped at it – it’s the album he’d been wanting to create since he’d started releasing music.  He knew he couldn’t do it when he started, but as he says, “11 records deep, I think I’ve proven myself as a songwriter.”   
 
He certainly had already, and Fixin To Die only serves to reinforce that.   The songs are raw, and beautifully gritty.  The heart that has been present in all of his music is still there and his songs still sound like they belong to him – this album isn’t the result of some unwelcome record label mandate.  It’s obvious this album was a labor of love.  He calls the time he spent on this album – from picking up his guitar to rehearse specifically for the recording sessions, to recording it, to performing it live – some of the happiest he’s ever had creating music.   
 
That said, when it comes to performing live, anyone who has seen him perform live before can attest that his shows are powerful – which isn’t to say they’re no fun.  The enjoyment he has at being onstage and being able to perform his songs for the crowd is apparent.  He told me, "Being on stage is like being on drugs.  It’s a really euphoric thing. You get hooked on it."  Unlike some other drugs he could have fallen into the trap of, though, this one has managed to keep Dutton on the road and growing as an artist. 
 
One of the ways, oddly enough, that he shows growth on Fixin To Die, is in his cover songs.  Unlike previous albums, none of which contained cover songs, this album has four.  Two of them are old blues songs – the title track and "You’ve Got To Die," but he also included "Pale Blue Eyes" by The Velvet Underground and "50 Ways To Leave Your Lover" by Paul Simon. The last one is one of the stand-out tracks on the album.  It takes what was already an excellent song and adds in the seductiveness that is missing from the original.  He mentioned he was worried about performing it live at first, but that the audiences have really responded well to it. 
 

In that vein, I asked him about the differences between performing his songs in front of a crowd at a venue like The Pageant and performing it in the studio.  He told me that, "The two worlds couldn’t really be farther apart, except you’re playing the same song."  The stage allows him to interpret the music fresh every night, and it allows in some of the imperfections that can sometimes create the most perfect version of a song.  There’s a temptation in the studio, as he tells it, to listen to the recordings in the studio repeatedly, and keep trying to correct things that are better left uncorrected.  The album Fixin To Die would imply that he managed to avoid doing that this time around. It is neither overly sanitized or lacking the enthusiasm of the previous albums.  It’s quite an amazing piece of music and will no doubt be even better live. | Teresa Montgomery  

 

G. Love will bring Fixin To Die to St. Louis, Friday, April 29th, at The Pageant, $20 advance, $25 dos, doors

at 7.  The Belle Brigade are opening.. 

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