Fan favorite John Fullbright returns with an evening featuring the Oklahoma singer/songwriter’s pungent lyrical imagery. Winner of the ASCAP Harold Adamson Lyric Award, the Los Angeles Times said Fullbright writes songs that are “impressively and potently economical, mostly stripped to the emotional essence through poetically concise lyrics and heart-rending musical settings.”
“Mr. Fullbright joins the lineage of terse Southwestern songwriters like Townes Van Zandt and Guy Clark, sticking to a few folky chords and reaching for unassailable clarity.”
– Jon Pareles, The New York Times
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His plainspoken approach is part of what’s fueled the young Oklahoman’s remarkable rise. It was four years ago that John Fullbright released his debut studio album, From The Ground to a swarm of critical acclaim. The LA Times called the record “preternaturally selfassured,” while NPR hailed him as one of the 10 Artists You Should Have Known in 2012, saying “it’s not every day a new artist…earns comparisons to great songwriters like Townes Van Zandt and Randy Newman, but Fullbright’s music makes sense in such lofty company.” The Wall Street Journal crowned him as giving one of the year’s 10 best live performances, and the album also earned him the ASCAP Foundation’s Harold Adamson Lyric Award. If there was any doubt that his debut announced the arrival of a songwriting force to be reckoned with, it was put to rest when From The Ground Up was nominated for Best Americana Album at the GRAMMY Awards.
“I never came into this with a whole lot of expectations,” says Fullbright. “I just wanted to write really good songs, and with that outlook, everything else is a perk. The fact that we went to LA and played “Gawd Above” in front of a starstudded audience [at the GRAMMY pretel concert], never in my life would I have imagined that.”
Grammy-nominated John Fullbright was crowned by The Wall Street Journal in 2012 as giving one of the year’s 10 best live performances the same year his album, Songs, also earned him the ASCAP Foundation’s Harold Adamson Lyric Award.
But for Fullbright, it hasn’t been all the acclaim that means the most to him, but rather his entrance into a community of songwriters whose work he admires. “When I started out, I was all by myself in a little town in Oklahoma where whatever you wanted, you just made it yourself,” he explains. “I didn’t grow up around musicians or likeminded songwriters, but I grew up around records. One of the most fulfilling things about the last two years is that now I’m surrounded by likeminded people in a community of peers. You don’t feel so alone anymore.”
If there’s a recurring motif that jumps out upon first listen to his latest album, Songs it’s the act of writing, which is one Fullbright treats with the utmost respect. “When I discovered Townes Van Zandt, that’s when I went, ‘You know, this is something to be taken pretty damn seriously,’” says Fullbright. “‘This is nothing to do with business, it has to do with art and identity.’ You can write something that’s going to outlast you, and immortality though song is a big draw.”
The arrangements on Songs are stripped down to their cores and free of ornamentation. Fullbright’s guitar and piano anchor the record, while a minimalist rhythm section weaves in and out throughout the album. That’s not to say these are simple songs; Fullbright possesses a keen ear for memorable melody and a unique approach to harmony, moving through chord progressions far outside the expected confines of traditional folk or Americana. The performances are stark and direct, though, a deliberate approach meant to deliver the songs in their purest and most honest form.