I remember the first time we all heard Joe Pug. Listening to his lyrics, I would have guessed him to be closer to my age than his true age of 23. The lyrics he put to paper belied his true age. The same is true of newcomer John Fullbright and his astonishingly young age of 21.
Fullbright hails from Okemah, Oklahoma – the birthplace of Woody Guthrie. And while it would be convenient to slap the “new Woody Guthrie” tag on Fullbright, that would be doing a disservice to him. Clearly inspired so many before him including Townes and Leon Russell, Fullbright puts his own stamp on American music and stakes his claim as an important voice to be heard.
“Gawd Above” leads the album off with a bluesy stomp and a first person look at how the good Lord above sees his constituents below. Let’s just say, I don’t think Fullbright will be paying a visit to The 700 Club any time soon.
I made the heaven and earth
I made the stars above
Is it too much to ask for a little love
So I’ll tip my hat to all of your creations
You can fly like birds
Destory entire nations
Go and curse my name with your last breath
If all I brought to your life was death
Now you’re all my own
All mine together
Will you sing my praise
Sing my name forever
I am Gawd Above, Lord God Almighty Mama
That is followed up by “Jericho,” a tune that could slip in on Whiskeytown’s Stranger’s Almanac and without giving you pause. It’s a mid-tempo number that is elevated by the simplest of flourishes – the intro of female vocals during the chorus. Her simple punch to the chorus makes the song truly majestic with voices blending like Adams and Cary. Brilliant.
“I Only Pray At Night” finds an introspective Fullbright alone with a piano. This is one of tunes that can cause a room to go deathly silent when played live. It demands your full attention.
That’s just three songs. There’s nine more left, all equally great in their own right. To say this this kid is on the fast track to success would not be going out on a limb. If you enjoy Joe Pug, Justin Townes Earle or Ryan Adams, then get From The Ground Up now. This is one of those stunning debut albums that immediately leaves you wanting more.