John Fullbright was the beloved Grammy-nominated songwriting prodigy we all thought was the bright future of Americana, who then became an elusive performer only a few knew exactly what had happened. But now the first member of the Turnpike Troubadours is back after an eight-year hiatus from song release and significant touring as “John Fullbright” with a new release on September 30 called Liar.
Although John Fulbright was a favorite subject of “Where Are They Now?” investigations, he has not been completely in hibernation. Just ask the folks in the Tulsa, Oklahoma music scene, where Fullbright drags an electric piano from stage to stage, sometimes playing under his own name and performing regularly in other people’s bands, finding his muse music firmly out of the national spotlight, and just having fun singing and performing songs, no matter who wrote them.
But he couldn’t stay out of the national spotlight forever, so he’s finally reemerging, but with a very Tulsa-centric approach since that’s where he found his musical comfort zone. The new album was recorded on the farm compound at Steve and Charlene Ripley’s studio in northeast Oklahoma shortly after Steve’s death, with Fullbright and Charlene acting as producers. They also brought in famed Tulsa musicians Jesse Aycock, Aaron Boehler, Paul Wilkes, Stephen Lee and Paddy Ryan as the album’s wrecking crew.
“It was so collaborative with really cool vocals” Fulbright said. “It’s like playing music in Tulsa. Everyone does what they do, and it works… It’s been a process of learning to be in a community of musicians and less of focusing on the lonely, depressed songwriter… just playing something that has a beat and that’s really fun. That’s not to say there aren’t songs on this record where I deviate from that, because there are, but there’s also a band that has an opinion. And this part is new to me.
John Fulbright’s latest album songs from 2014 certainly had its moments, but you could tell the songwriting process got into his head a bit. Sometimes an early hit, like Fulbright with his 2012 album From the ground– isn’t the slingshot of a career, but can wreck things, especially for songwriters who want to stay grounded and are very self-aware.
“What rules didn’t I have? » Fullbright talks about his former songwriter. “Even like, how many syllables were in a line, I had arbitrary rules for. A lot of that is gone, and I’m so much happier. It’s really just the idea that you don’t have to do it yourself. It’s so much more fun to collaborate.
You can hear this newfound freedom in the album’s opening single “Paranoid Heart”. It starts out as a sweet acoustic singer/songwriter song, but blossoms into a folk rock song in its own right. Those who have seen John Fulbright perform over the past eight years can attest to the passion and soul he brings to performances. He’s not a coffeehouse songwriter, at least not anymore.
Liar will be eagerly awaited by John Fulbright fans old and new, and is available now in pre-order.
List of tracks:
1. Bearden, 1645
2. Paranoid Heart
4. The Liar
5. Doors unlocked
6. Where We Belong
7. Social skills
10. Child Poster
11. Safe to Say