There can’t be many musicians whose debut studio album gets nominated for a GRAMMY award. John Fullbright must therefore be a member of a pretty exclusive club because that’s exactly what has happened to FROM THE GROUND UP. This soon to be 25 year old has been writing songs and singing them for years; he’s well known in his native Oklahoma and neighbouring Texas however his reputation has been spreading widely, so much so that his first ever date in London was a sell out - that probably makes him a member of another exclusive club!
Grabbing the audience’s attention straight away by commencing with a hymn like acapella Am I Born to Die Fullbright then sang a couple of new songs before inviting guitarist Terry ‘Buffalo’ Ware to accompany him. Ware leads the much in-demand house band at the annual Woody Guthrie Folk Festival and also plays on Fullbright’s album.
Together they treated us to a selection of the songs from the album – including the religious tinged Satan and St. Paul, Jericho and Gawd Above, the cynical Fat Man (a personal favourite) and the tender Forgotten Flowers. Fullbright has drawn comparisons with Townes Van Zandt, Steve Earle and Randy Newman and although he has studied these great songwriters, he is forging his own path and carving out a name for himself as a lyricist whose songs belie his tender age.
LIVE AT THE BLUE DOOR was his debut album; it was recorded in 2009 for a showcase at the prestigious Folk Alliance conference. Fullbright ventured into that territory with Blameless explaining that it started off as a joke but muted into quite a sentimental song. He mixes folk, country and blues to devastating effect ‘it’s called Americana – I’m glad they’ve given it a name’ he remarked, tongue in cheek.
Good music is good music and Fullbright is good. No he’s more than good – he’s ridiculously good! He’s talented and he’s passionate about his art - just listen to the depth of feeling in his voice and the way one moment he is playing the most delicate of notes on keyboards and the next he’s hitting the keys as if his life depended on it.
Receiving very warm encouragement and applause from the London crowd, Fullbright said ‘you guys are too nice’ almost in disbelief at the reaction he was garnering. He finished the set with Moving and came back for an encore – Jimmy Webb’s If You See Me Getting Smaller. Webb, the legendry songwriter, is on record as saying ‘I have no doubt that in a very short time John Fullbright will be a household name in American music.’ I’m not about to argue with that! Jela Webb