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John Fullbright (from The Liar available on Blue Dirt Records/Thirty Tigers) (By Lee Zimmerman)
The fact that John Fullbright has more or less been absent from public view for the past eight years clearly hasn’t had any dire effect on his efforts or ability. Then again, with a Grammy nod, an Americana Music Association Emerging Artist nomination, and awards from both ASCAP and the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame it’s unlikely that his prowess or potential might be hindered in any way.
Backed by an all-star group of Tulsa, OK colleagues and cohorts, such as multi-instrumentalist Jesse Aycock and percussionist Paddy Ryan, John Fullbright has reemerged with one of the best albums of his remarkable career. Granted, some of the songs are retooled — “Unlocked Doors,” for one, appeared on 2009’s Live at the Blue Door -- but the drama and dynamic that informs this music makes for a genuinely honest, emotional and confessional effort overall. It’s a song cycle of sorts, one that finds focus on the many phases and feelings involved that transpire when one falls in love, and, by contrast the disparate emotions that result when a relationship dissolves and disintegrates, especially when there’s no warning whatsoever.
There are lighter moments to be sure — the jaunty ramble of “Gasoline”, the enticing sing-along refrain that prevails through “Poster Child” being the most obvious examples — but the majority of The Liar finds Fullbright steadily shifting emotions, veering from hopelessness and despair to trying to find light in a decidedly dark set of circumstances. So too, while the melancholia sometimes seems to permeate the proceedings, the resolve and defiance seems enough to overcome any of the obstacles. As a result, songs such as “Bearden 1645”, “Paranoid Heart”, “Where We Belong”, “Social Skills”, and the title track literally seem to soar, each an explosive expression of pure anthemic energy and expression. That’s especially evident in the words of warning that accompany “Lucky”, an homage to one very loose lady. Even those songs that seem to find Fullbright wholly engrossed in anguish and despair — the sobering “Stars” and the yearning “Safe to Say” in particular — are plied with unwavering intent, creating a heightened sense of drama and desire that speaks well to Fullbright’s ability to explore both depth and desire.
Eight years on, Fullbright has emerged with an album that can justifiably be called a masterpiece, one that balances tone, tempo, and tenacity in equal measure. That’s the mark of a superb songwriter, and its title aside, The Liar speaks to John Fullbright’s abilities in ways that are robust and riveting without exceptional. Truth be told, The Liar is, without a doubt, uncommonly exceptional. (By Lee Zimmerman)
Listen and buy the music of John Fullbright from AMAZON
Please go to the John Fullbright website for more information
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