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John Fullbright

Songs (Blue Dirt)

Reviewed by Jim Caligiuri, Fri., June 20, 2014

Phases & Stages

John Fullbright

Songs (Blue Dirt)

Songs: not quite a sophomore slump, not quite a triumph. Following up 2012's Grammy-nominated studio debut From the Ground Up with morose, piano-based material, 26-year-old John Fullbright still demonstrates that he's got songwriting down cold. Ice breaker "Happy" feels anything but, while "Until You Were Gone" manages to sound simultaneously full of longing and oddly dispassionate. The more upbeat songs, country rocker "Never Cry Again" and harmonica-fueled shuffle "Going Home," recall the more successful tunes on From the Ground Up, breaking the tension of the songwriter's relentless soul-searching. Admitting Townes Van Zandt as a reference for this album, and with past comparisons to songwriting gods Jimmy Webb, Randy Newman, and Mickey Newbury, this young Okie's continuing search for his own voice puts Songs in heady company.

***

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