Garret Dutton has been better known as G. Love for his nearly two decades as a professional musician. But it’s only with his most recent and soon to be released album that Dutton lays bare the exact folk and blues variety that sparked, and intermittently permeated his 20 years as G. Love.
“Fixin’ To Die,” due February 22, is a rootsy collection of covers and originals, with G. Love leading on acoustic guitar, harmonica and vocals. Produced by The Avett Brothers and recorded in just nine days, the album is melodic and direct, its 13 acoustic tracks rendered in rustic, folk arrangements that favor stomps and claps over the drum kit. As G. Love explains, the dexterity of Scott and Seth Avett—who also sing and play multiple instruments on the record—was essential to the final project’s relaxed and homespun character.
Most of the original songs from “Fixin’ To Die” have long been a part of Dutton’s repertoire. He mentions “Get Going,” a chugging folk-rock tune, as among the first ten songs he ever penned, still in high school. The tumbling “Milk and Sugar” and raw-yet-tuneful “Heaven” were more recent additions, written as the character of the record came into focus. Paul Simon’s “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” finds its way into the mix, reworked as a definitive track that peaks in an explosive hoedown and what G. Love sums with a laugh as “a harmonica-version of the ‘Freebird’ solo.”
In style and in tone, “Fixin’ To Die” harkens Dutton’s formative years learning to play guitar and then busking in the street and in coffee houses; he recalls combing his mother’s record collection as a teen and finding particular inspiration in the acoustic works of Bob Dylan. Icons like Dylan, The Beatles and Dr. John shaped Dutton’s first stabs at songwriting, but the turning point arrived one afternoon when a young Dutton entered his favored, local record shop in Philadelphia, asking for a solo acoustic guitarist that also played harmonica—other than Dylan.
Dutton left with “Country Blues” by John Hammond. “I went home and put it on, and that was my second musical epiphany—after writing my first song. That was the start of my blues journey.” Over 20 years later, the twists and turns of that journey are palpable in “Fixin’ To Die”. Taking stock, G. Love muses, “This record was really a long time in the making.”