John Fullbright 'Songs' - Blue Dirt

The latest album from Fullbright lives up to its title as the focus here is the writing, something at which he excels. As such, the overall feeling is of a singer/songwriter delivering the words in the most suitable way for each of the songs as Fullbright conceives them. He co-produced the album with Wes Sharon, so the way this album sound s is doubtless as was intended. I have heard comments that it reminded some listeners of Elton John and Billy Joel. These comments have some accuracy as you will not be thinking of Merle or Buck when you listen. 

What is immediately obvious is that John Fullbright knows how to craft a lyric and a melody. These are often played in simple guitar and voice, or voice and piano setting (Keeping Hope Alive, Write a Song and Very First Time). Other tracks, by way of contrast, When You’re Here and Never Cry Again have a full band. The latter is the most obviously roots oriented song musically. For the most part it is Fullbright and one or two players reaching the essence of the song. Songs is a likely source of material for other artists, who could expand on the arrangements here to good effect. However repeated play brings home the songs’ honesty and essential hopefulness. The accompanying lyric booklet gives easy access to the words, but Fullbright’s lyrics are clearly sung and leave you understanding what the songs are about.

Write a Song quietly tells the listener to “write a song about a song”. This is something that Fullbright knows well and his words and melodies are never too complex. The meanings are clear and for that reason you find an affinity with them and in many ways that is what the best sings do. One line that stuck with me was “I met love, love met me and we agreed to disagree”, from the song Going Home; it simply captured the fleeting nature of many a relationship. There is something of the poetic about his writing but that’s without the big “p”, rather he understates these songs with an economical sparseness that is lets the songs breathe.

Songs will however not make everyone’s playlist as it doesn’t exude falseness as many of the songs that reach the popular conscious these days do. But for others the voice, playing and writing on offer here offers a respite of thoughtfulness that gets down to the heart of what the songwriting craft is all about.