Entrancing guitarist and singer Jake Xerxes Fussell follows his celebrated self-titled debut (produced by William Tyler) with a moving new album of Natural Questions in the form of transmogrified folk/blues koans. This time these radiant ancient tunes tone several shades darker while amplifying their absurdist humor, illuminating our national, and psychic, predicaments. Roger Brown, whose preternaturally vivid paintings grace Durham, North Carolina guitarist and singer Jake Xerxes Fussell’s second album What in the Natural World, is usually associated with the loose confederacy of artists known as the Chicago Imagists, but at heart he was fundamentally a Southern boy whose Alabama origins root his work.
In early 2015, Georgia native Jake Xerxes Fussell delivered a remarkably durable debut with his eponymous William Tyler-produced effort on North Carolina's Paradise of Bachelors label. On his second outing, What in the Natural World, Fussell again mines the front half the of last century, unearthing a slightly shadier collection of deep cuts whose sources range from Colorado River lore ("Canyoneers") to Virginia mining tales ("Pinnacle Mountain Silver Mine") to the traditional English balladry compiled by American folklorist Francis James Child.
Jake Xerxes Fussell's quirky and exuberant, William Tyler-produced self-titled debut of Southern folk and blues songs turned out to be one of my favourite albums of 2015; it was the most fun I'd had listening to traditional music in a while, and it was beautiful. So it was a bit of a surprise, then, to hear Fussell redirect his current in a more subdued, sombre - bleak even - direction on What in the Natural World, his deeper, more complex sophomore album. Here, optimism is always married with pathos and/or danger; and likewise, pathos tends to carry a barely hidden dose of humour.
Entrancing guitarist and singer Fussell follows his celebrated debut (produced by William Tyler) with a moving new album of Natural Questions in the form of transmogrified folk/blues koans. This time these radiant ancient tunes tone several shades darker while amplifying their absurdist humor, illuminating our national, and psychic, predicaments
Jake Xerxes Fussell’s music is deeply traditional, in the sense that it’s built from, and connects to, the music of the past. But it's no costume party. His second album What In the Natural World continues the path outlined on his 2015 self-titled debut; taking old songs, familiar or not, and inhabiting them through his singing and acoustic guitar-playing. Fussell is of the South, growing up in Georgia, son of a folklorist, and living in Mississippi and now North Carolina.
Recorded and engineered at Black Dirt Studio, Orange County, New York and at Track & Field Recording, Orange County, North Carolina. Mixed at Uniform Recording, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Mastered at Bonati Mastering, Brooklyn, New York. Publishing Information (where provided): Track A1 - Sony/ATV Harmony EMI Robbins Catalog, Inc. Webster Music Corp. ASCAP Track B2 - Debra Music Corp.
Fussell has created a world of supernatural, natural and mundane forces on this record that gets better and better with each listen. Like Hacquard, Fussell has the gift of the gab, born to tell his tales with a dark humour that raises these fabulous fables up to splendid life.
Good balance between familiar/Personal textures. But not transcendent . .too much "déjè-vu" ? (especially this year because of the huge amount of folky albums). Or consider a donation? End of year lists.
We talk to Jake Xerxes Fussell about his musical focus and new album 'What in the Natural World' - built from collected folk songs and tunes. e-radio-71217/ Enjoy! Jake Xerxes Fussell.
More by Jake Xerxes Fussell. Oh Captain, Three Ravens. Jump for Joy. More Jake Xerxes Fussell. Listen to What in the Natural World now.