On his solid new album Fixin to Die, it sounds like G. Love has traded in his cold beverages for hot ones and wisely let the Avett Brothers mix up the special sauce.
Still best known for kicking out the hip-hop-styled blues and folksy party jams with his backing band Special Sauce, G. Love has made a great new record with the considerable aid of the Avetts rootsy live-sounding production and their able talents as multi-instrumentalists.
Among many standout tracks, “Milk and Sugar,” a love letter to coffee (and sweet women), serves as a subtle hot bookend to his early-career minor hit “Cold Beverages.” Alongside the usual suspects (covers of blues material by Willie McTell and Bukka White), there are also a couple of eyebrow raisers such as takes on Paul Simon’s “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” and Lou Reed’s “Pale Blue Eyes.” And yet somehow it works, as odd as it may seem.
All of it works. The Avetts know their way around the banjos and pianos and sparse percussion, and G. Love is still an extreme talent on the harmonica and his acoustic guitar work is underrated. Fixin’ to Die is certainly his most countrified album, but it comes off as an authentic session and not at all contrived.
He might not be the greatest pure singer, or possess the true songwriting gifts of the Avetts, but G. Love is a showman who doesn’t need a light show or bells and whistles. Just give him a mic and lend him your ears and he’ll take you on a ride that veers from troubadour storytelling to rave-ups and hoedowns, sometimes within the same song. Fixin’ to Die is worth repeated spins, whether on a road trip or kickin’ back at home with some beverages. Hot or cold.