March 2, 2011

Test Spin: G Love

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Garrett Dutton’s stage alias, “G-Love,” seems a bit unfit for his latest Special Sauce-less musical effort. Fixin’ to Die, produced by the Avett Brothers, marks a transition for the cool-as-can-be Dutton and a departure from his infectious niche of bluesy hip-hop. It is a daring simplification of his previous work’s — gutsy given the fan base he’s established on a quite different style.

This album is likely to polarize the G-Love faithful. Those who feel an attachment to the saucy groove of his hip-hop influence, a feel which dominated albums like Lemonade and Superhero Brother, might be turned off by the home-grown, bluesy feel of Fixin’ to Die: steady stompin’ and drenched in dobro. For those who prefer the Dylan in Dutton, this album will hit the sweet spot. Songs with the Americana feel have been peppered into earlier albums, but never dominated like they do in Fixin’ to Die. Nonetheless, his cheeky hip-hop swag can be found on tracks like “Milk & Sugar” and “Ma Mere,” which, although somewhat out of place on this record, have the potential to convince doubters that this transition is a wise one. The title track, a Bukka White cover with a stomp-n-clap pulse and a chug-chuggin harmonica breakdown, announces the Avetts’ presence, but reassures fans that Dutton’s unique bravado is going nowhere. “Just Fine” is another highlight, and is likely how the 2008 single “Crumble” would have turned out had the Avett Brothers been sitting in.

If given a fighting chance, Fixin to Die has the makings of a classic. Its progression is cohesive, its covers are well selected (especially Paul Simon’s 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover) and as is the norm for G. Love — it’s loads of fun. It’s all the sunshine you gloomy March mudslide needs.

– Nathan Tailleur

Original Author: Nathan Tailleur