Jake Xerxes Fussell

photo credit: Brad Bunyea

Over the last few weeks, since Fussell announced this album, I’ve been listening to his 2017 effort, What In the Natural World with some regularity. The word that always comes to mind when listening to Fussell is effortless.

On Out Of Sight, Fussell again goes mining through old folk songs and puts his own spin on them. But on his third album, Fussell enlists a band -Nathan Bowles (drums), Casey Toll (bass), Nathan Golub (pedal steel), Libby Rodenbough (violin, vocals), and James Anthony Wallace (piano, organ) – and the results are stunning. Yet once again, the word that kept popping into my head was effortless.

It’s as if he called up his band, found some tunes in a book, started playing and told the band to follow me. And off they went. As effortless as it first comes across at first, there is just so much to uncover with each listen. Some of my favorites include Michael Was Hearty and Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues.

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photo credit: Brad Bunyea

Jake Xerxes Fussell is back with his first album since 2017’s excellent What In The Natural World. Out of Sight will be released on June 7th via the fine folks at Paradise of Bachelors. Get excited for this one.

On his third and most finely wrought album yet, guitarist, singer, and master interpreter Fussell is joined for the first time by a full band featuring Nathan Bowles (drums), Casey Toll (bass), Nathan Golub (pedal steel), Libby Rodenbough (violin, vocals), and James Anthony Wallace (piano, organ). An utterly transporting selection of traditional narrative folksongs addressing the troubles and delights of love, work, and wine (i.e., the things that matter), collected from a myriad of obscure sources and deftly metamorphosed, Out of Sight contains, among other moving curiosities, a fishmonger’s cry that sounds like an astral lament (“The River St. Johns”); a cotton mill tune that humorously explores the unknown terrain of death and memory (“Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues”); and a fishermen’s shanty/gospel song equally concerned with terrestrial boozing and heavenly transcendence (“Drinking of the Wine”).

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Photo by Brad Bunyea

Jake Xerxes Fussell is a Georgia native making his home in Durham, NC these days. He’s part of a crop of amazing acoustic guitarists that we’ve been blessed with these days – Gunn, Walker, Elkington, Tyler and Salsburg to name a few. Fussell isn’t some fly by night artist that appeared out of nowhere. You read his bio and you learn of a man that has been learning since he was a kid, often at the side of his dad; noted Southern Renaissance man Fred C. Fussell.

On What In The World, Fussell again delves into yesteryear for his collection of tunes to perform. Unlike his s/t debut Fussell strays from the South for some his tunes. The Bells of Rhymney is a song of Welsh origin, popularized by Pete Seeger; is a tune lamenting the plight of the working man. Keeping along those lines of the working man and poverty, Furniture Man is another standout on the album. Fussell closes out the album with a chilling murder ballad which features some guest vocals by Joan Shelley.

While many of these songs may be over 100 years old, Fussell put together a collection of tracks that sound as timely today as they did back then. I don’t what that says about the progress we’ve made or not made. But as for Fussell, there’s no denying his progress.

Follow me on Twitter at @WoodyHearYa or @HearYa

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