G. Love’s fourth album, Fixin’ To Die, immediately stands out from his other work in terms of style. The difference here is that G. Love finally gives himself completely over to creating back road blues music, and he does it well. A blues influence has always come through in his work, but on Fixin’ To Die it dominates. Listening to the album, one wonders a few times if iTunes has somehow switched to another artist – a strictly bluegrass artist.
The Avett Brothers (QRO album review) produced this album, and it shows in the harmonica- and banjo-heavy work. The duo agreed to produce Fixin’ To Die after they performed successfully with G. Love in Boston, where it seems a natural partnership was formed. G. Love flourishes next to their bluegrass influence and easily slips into producing more bluesy vocals and featuring the banjo and tambourine on nearly every track. Parts of the track “You’ve Got To Die” would sound natural coming from a player piano in a saloon in the Wild West, in a good way. So prevalent are they, the producers not only heavily influence the style, they are also are featured on multiple tracks, providing vocals and instruments in a supporting role.
Click here for photos of G. Love at SXSW 2014 in Austin, TX in the QRO Concert Photo Gallery
Click here for photos of G. Love & Special Sauce at Stubb’s in Austin, TX on March 7th, 2014 in the QRO Concert Photo Gallery
Click here for photos of G. Love & The Special Sauce at Starlight Theatre in Kansas City, MO on July 2nd, 2013 in the QRO Concert Photo Gallery
Click here for photos of G. Love & The Special Sauce at 2013 Tortuga Festival in Ft. Lauderdale, FL in the QRO Concert Photo Gallery
Click here for photos of G. Love & The Special Sauce at Stubb’s in Austin, TX on February 9th, 2013 in the QRO Concert Photo Gallery
Click here for photos of G. Love & The Special Sauce at 2012 Wakarusa Festival in Ozark, AR in the QRO Concert Photo Gallery
The subject matter of the album sticks to themes found in bluegrass music, meshing nicely with the style. The loneliness of constant travel dominates in “The Road”. “Katie Miss” is all about missing a woman, an obvious play on the word miss that fails to add anything to the song. Death and dying are repeatedly mentioned, and draw attention because of the reference in the title track. The album is not morbid – dying comes off as inevitable but abstract. G. Love never completely breaks away from his often-spoken, pop-y vocal style, which shows up on the track “Just Fine”. It’s the same on “Milk and Sugar”. In “Milk and Sugar”, G. Love continues his pattern of writing songs about things he enjoys in the morning. Reminiscent of “Gimme Some Lovin'” and “Milk and Cereal,” this is the track on Fixin’ To Die most similar to his previous releases. The digital version of Fixin’ To Die ends with the tenderest track, “Pale Blue Eyes”, a wistful ballad that closes the album rather disappointingly on a quieter, less interesting note.
Fixin’ To Die will be a pleasant surprise for G. Love fans that are open to back road blues. It’s evocative of Jack White’s work with The Raconteurs. It’s more banjo, more harmonica, and clearly a side of G. Love that has always been there and only needed to be developed.
MP3 Stream: “Fixin’ To Die”