John Fullbright, Purcell Room (London, UK) September 27th 2013
In Daydreamer John Fullbright sings “I’m a young man today/That’s got nothing left to say about tomorrow” which if you’ve ever seen him play live or listened to his albums (LIVE AT THE BLUE DOOR and FROM THE GROUND UP) you’ll know that is far from true…
This 25 year old has been collecting critically acclaimed reviews on both sides of the Atlantic and received Grammy and AMA nominations for his studio album. He’s drawn favourable comparisons with the likes of Randy Newman, Steve Earle and Woody Guthrie (he comes from the same part of Oklahoma as the Dust Bowl Troubadour) and no less a figure than the ‘godfather of Tin Pan Alley’ Jimmy Webb, has predicted that Fullbright is going to become a household name in American music. High praise indeed and if Fullbright feels any pressure in living up to these expectations – he shouldn’t, because he is an extraordinarily talented writer.
At his third London show this year, Fullbright performed solo, accompanying himself on guitar, organ and harmonica. He’s won the hearts and minds of the London audience – all his shows have been sell-outs. As a measure of the mutual respect between the musician and his fans, he was happy to try out some brand new songs, even one that he’d attempted the previous night on guitar that he wasn’t altogether happy with but here he tried it out on the organ. My guess at a title is Child In The Mirror and it will hopefully find it’s way on to the new album he is going to start recording when he comes off the road. He’s been touring pretty much non-stop for the last eighteen months and I‘m not the only one who is eagerly anticipating his next recording.
He closed out the night with a request shouted from the crowd Nowhere To Be Found and Jimmy Webb’s If You See Me Getting Smaller. A standing ovation brought Fullbright back for a final song – I think it was another new one as I don’t recall hearing it before and I’ve seen him play a good number of times over the past six years.
As a reviewer, it is so satisfying to see a shy teenager blossom into a respected writer and confident performer. Fullbright has paid attention to the manner in which his heroes (including Townes Van Zandt and Mickey Newbury) constructed songs; he’s paid heed to advice offered to him by older and wiser musicians, he’s learned from those he’s opened for, those he’s listened to, however, he is anything but an imitator. Fullbright’s own voice is assured, as too is his place in the annals of Oklahoma’s musical traditions. Jela Webb