Growing up in the small country town of Bearden, Oklahoma can have its limitations if you want to be a musician. Without a local music scene to be inspired by, John Fullbright listened to records and learned the piano and guitar in order to write his own music. With all the obstacles in his way he has become a Grammy nominated artist and has toured the world following the success of his debut album From The Ground Up. He returns with his highly anticipated second album Songs, a collection that shows he is an established artist with an abundance of music and lyrics to create songs from.
The new album has a lot of well written songs that are short and to the point. Fullbright has made an effort to let his voice, along with a simple backdrop of instruments, prove that less is more. The opening track, Happy sets the mood for the rest of the album with a relaxed folk vibe. With a solid performance by the band it allows John’s lyrics and music to shine. We get to hear John on the piano in When You’re Here, She Knows and Very First Time. His approach to writing on the piano differs from songs written on guitar bringing more of a folk-ballad feel to his work. He is able to draw more emotion from the music when he sings with piano. He plays simply with well structured chords that outline the harmony and melody effectively.
Never Cry Again is a catchy love song with a full band driving it to the very end. Fullbright has great range singing at times quite low before jumping up to where his voice strains a little bit. The electric guitar plays a nice little solo and the tambourine fills the track up perfectly. Going Home has the energy of a rock song with only an acoustic guitar and a little bit of drums. Fullbright’s witty lyrics add to the track making it one of the more catchier songs on the album. With the sublime Fender Rhodes piano, All That You Know warms the heart and touches the soul as John plays a gospel number that sees him sing with real passion and enthusiasm and keeps you riveted throughout the song.
Within two years of the release of his debut album John Fullbright has left us with a nice follow up album in Songs that stays well within his comfort zone and would please most fans. It doesn’t include huge arrangements or collaborations with other folk artists but it doesn’t need it. It displays John in his strongest position, playing guitar and piano and singing with such maturity. It lacks one or two songs that deviate from the Americana genre with maybe something more pop rock or a little upbeat. That maybe in the mix for the next album which I’m sure will be just as good as this one.