“The good lord he giveth, and then walks away”
I was lucky enough to catch a fine set by Lindsay Fuller at Conor Byrne last Saturday. She was accompanied by Jeff Fielder, on dobro and nylon string guitar, and Rebecca Young on bass. I scored a CD, Fuller’s 6th – The Last Light I See, and I’m listening to it now.
Fuller manages to combine literacy with story telling in a way that avoids burying the songs in “clever.” The lyrics are just better than yours – sorry. They have the difficult-to-achieve quality of being readable as poetry, without feeling heavy-handed or verbose. It takes an intrepid writer to take on Leonard Peltier’s incarceration (Big White Lie), to find a good rhyme for “Prometheus” (East Grand Exit), and to reference The Scarlet Letter (Trigger Happy). I am in awe of the integration between intelligence and song-craft.
How does she do it? It’s all in the delivery. Lindsay Fuller fulfills the promise of the lyrics, in a voice that already feels classic to me. There are hints of Lucinda Williams without the Texas, or Gillian Welch without the California, but really her voice is her own. She is intense, hurt, lonesome, angry, hungry, but – most importantly – she is believable.
The mood of the whole disc might be summed up by the quote above.
“The good lord he giveth and then walks away.” Beauty and love – the gifts of the gods perhaps – are here, but temporary. Blood and bone, the limitations of a hurting human body are here to stay. When you need them, these songs express the fight to survive, and the longing for joy inherent in our condition.
This record will be in heavy rotation here at the Farfetcher house.
About the players:
Along with Young and Fielder, Fuller is joined by Mark Pickerel on drums and Jason Staczek on keys. Phil Peterson and Aubrea Alford provide cello, viola, and violin. With production by Matt Brown and Jeff Fielder and a lush mix from Johnny Sangster, the disc has no fluff. It is all straightforward folk rock and uncluttered arrangements. Lindsay’s voice is front and center, and the focus is on the songs.
Mark Pickerel brings solidity and energy to the songs, whilst maintaining an orchestral approach. His big low voice can be heard on tracks 3,5 and 6 of The Last Light I See.
Rebecca Young displays equal facility with electric or upright bass, and a no-nonsense style – you get the right note, at the right time.
Jeff Fielder is now clearly a first call session musician and accompanist here in Seattle. His melodic approach, and multi-instrumental fluency complement Fuller’s voice, and add an emotional depth and color.
Jason Staczek is a composer and plays piano, Hammond organ and accordion. I’m sure 7 years making records as owner of Chroma sound didn’t hurt his musicality, or his sense for space, both of which come through on the record.
Phil Peterson (House of Breaking Glass studio) I’m guessing is also the arranger for the string parts. Together with Aubrea Alford on violin he provides a cinematic, wind-sweeping-over-the-plains depth.