Blues infusion gives G. Love a do-over
In a way G. Love is making his first album for the second time.
With his latest release, “Fixin’ to Die,” the Philadelphia rap-singer goes back to his Delta blues roots, drawing from material that spans his entire career and then some.
“I was trying to get away from the hip-hop side of what I’m doing. I wanted to do something different from the last three albums and I thought it was a good time to go back to when I was a coffee shop player, before I became G. Love and started mixing in the hip-hop with the blues,” said Garrett Dutton, aka G. Love, during a telephone interview. “All of the songs span the last 20 years. They say you spend your whole life making the first record, and you make your second record in a year. This was a second chance to make the first record.”
In order to make his jaunt back into full-blown blues mode, G. Love enlisted the help of the Avett Brothers to not only play on, but produce the album at the famous Echo Mountain Studios in Asheville, N.C.
The result is a flash-fried country-blues Americana floor stomper that leans as much on Lightning Hopkins and Robert Johnson as it does Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan, with fits and starts of Velvet Underground, the Beatles and “Exile on Main St.”-era Rolling Stones.
Many of the songs were written when he was a teenager, and some where written a year ago. There are featherings of hip-hop here and there, but “Fixin’ to Die” is an undeniably old-school record, though from a youthful perspective.
“Walk On,” is song about dreams of leaving the city and making a coast-to-coast road trip, written by a 16-year-old G. Love.
“When I first started writing there was a real purity and youthful exuberance – a real sincere approach to writing,” G. Love said. “I wasn’t calling myself a songwriter. I didn’t even know why I was doing it. I just knew it started coming out of me around the same time I was coming in to myself as a person. And some of the songs were pretty good.”
G. Love said he hasn’t turned his back on hip-hop permanently. The “Moonshine Lemonade” side project, a hip-hop collaboration album with programmed beats released last year in Australia.
“Hip-hop is a part of me but the blues is maybe more a part of me. When I get home from touring that’s the kind of music I listen to,” he said. “Right now I’m on a path and keeping it in a bluesier zone… more streamlined Delta blues and slide guitar work on my Dobro, that’s where I think I’m headed for the next record.”