Slim no slope streets
Whisper to me in rich tones
That aren’t my own
But softly electric and hiding anyway
Trees smother the lines that guide you
More trees than the rest of OkC
Elegant homes of personality being sold
Moving to Edmond
Charged, green, Greek columns
The cylinder edged 90s house
Has a place with the statelies somehow
A judge lives there and contemplates
Here, my daughter, deliver this to the junior congressman four houses down
That landlord has been working on that house
For two years
Anyone can pick their favorite streets
And drive them
Discover with surprise
When neighborhood turns
to something else
I have a strong opinion. It’s about basketball. I think art is more important than basketball and I say as much on a Facebook status update. I instantly feel ambivalent if not regretful about my post. I could have let the thought to myself and been a more stoic person. But I blabbed. Not nourishing Facebook thread commences. 9 or so participants
"Songs" By: John Fullbright
Bearden, Okla. native John Fullbright’s 2nd album is named, with understatement, “Songs.” It’s a small rebellion against certain qualities of his break-through LP, the Grammy nominated “From the Ground Up” in that he has stripped away a lot of the full-band sound. There are no evangelical cadenced anthems (“Moving”). And there isn’t the searing beauty of ambition (“Daydreamer”). He has presented himself bare, an ambitious decision despite itself. In ‘Songs’ we are allowed to focus on the beauty of personality.
Take for example the evangelical quality mentioned above. Fullbright hasn’t shooed it aside because he’s a grown man who doesn’t go to church anymore. Not any more than Jerry Lee did anyway. He’s smart enough to own the past we cannot chose and remember it in stride. In “Very First Time” the old religion sneaks back into a song where pain is only felt by its absence, and the artist reconciles opposing ideas (belief & disbelief) into something more luminous.
“I believe I’m protected / By the things I can’t see / I don’t believe in Jesus, I’m told he believes in me / And I think that’s good / Cause it’s a long, hard climb / And I feel alright for the very 1st time”
The calling of songwriter fits him better on this record. One of the ways this is distinguished is in the honest approach to love. There’s a lot of songs about it; that’s what singers do. They are not gimmicks. They are direct. There’s the young love that transforms sensations in ‘She Knows’
“The rain I’ve felt with her / I swear was electrified / She wishes away my pain / She knows a thing or two about rain “
There’s the illogical, cruelty of love in “Until You Were Gone’
“I didn’t know I was in love with you / Until you were gone.”
The tragic love of High Road is punctuated carefully, with stand-up bass from Dave Leach accompanying the stately piano. And at the end the light melody of the Scottish traditional on which High Road is based.
The piano ballad that stands in relief is ‘The One that Lives Too Far.’ It gets going when a mandolin soft-surprising joins in. Its chorus and words are carried with a muscular lilt that hasn’t really been heard from songwriters since the confident days of Jackson Browne and Carole King. I don’t know if this kind of song breaks new ground, but it sounds perfect. Where the American songbook starts or ends for Fullbright is anyone’s guess. These two albums prove he can roam where he wants, genre wise (waltz country, outlaw country, Brian Wilson pop, West Coast piano man, Write A Song even with its Shel Silverstein vibe…).
There’s a second guitar solo on “Write a Song” that is peculiar. It sounds like an outtake from the Million Dollar Sessions of John Cash, Jerry Lee and Elvis. It’s a song that is satirizing recent trends in songwriting (the compulsion to write about every thought that comes to the Lovely American’s head). The lazy, odd second solo seems to be lecturing to us, which could be off-putting. But it gives way to the same words with a new stress. .
“Live a life. Live a life…”
The first time could’ve have been satire. But that second Live a Life, after mulling it over a lazy solo, is about LIVING YOUR LIFE. Now. The song never could have stayed in the abstract.
Yet my favorite song is the small acoustic one that has some funny personality. The time structure of ‘Keeping Hope Alive’ seems quirky to my layman’s ears, like an idler trying to keep a teeter totter balanced by himself. Human joy is demoted to “Little Lord Fauntleroy / Sitting on his La-Z-Boy.” Then Fullbright uses precious empty space and just the right vocal inflection to reveal his interior:
“Pain and Pride
Tears I’ve cried alone”
And there it is, with those two lines Fullbright has given to his listeners something 90 percent of today’s artists have withheld from us. Why this should be we haven’t asked ourselves until the boy with the one word title came along.
He’s given a piece of himself. I am the man; I’ve risked loving another, risked it a few times, and here are the results of my findings. An abyss of pain and disappointment swims below us. But here I stand on this tight rope before you, and not without good humor.
The listener will never forget the artist for being there.