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G. Love
Lemonade
Brush Fire Records/Universal Music
www.philadelphonic.com


The mid-'90s found G. Love And Special Sauce on the cusp of commercial success breaking out of the niche they had carved out for themselves in their hometown of Philadelphia. Their vats of folk, rock, blues, and hip hop etudes have the hopping movements of the Dave Matthews Band, the graceful swoons of Ben Harper, and the cascading chants of Jack Johnson.

G. Love (Garrett Dutton) is still brandishing dishes of Philly Soul with the members of Special Sauce (Jimi "Jazz" Prescott on acoustic bass and Jeffrey "Thunderhouse" Clemens on drums and percussion) but this time he is out on his own with his solo release Lemonade on Jack Johnson's label Brush Fire Records. Lemonade features guest appearances from Ben Harper, Dave Hidalgo of Los Lobos, Blackalicious, Marc Broussard, Tristan Prettyman, Lateef the Truth Speaker, Donovan Frankenreiter, Jasper, and Jack Johnson. The album was produced by Chris DiBeneditto and recorded at Philadelphonic Studios in Philadelphia.

The songs make use of wide open spaces and infectious grooves from the start with "Ride." The sunny upbeat odes and hybrid of hip hop and blues licks jam into lustrous tones reminiscent of Jason Mraz and David Gray. The crisp, clear harmonies and blues vapors swirl with a hypnotic sway like Damien Rice. The handclap beats of "Ain't That Right" keep a perky tempo along the hip hop hewn vocal melody. The instrument parts work to benefit the song from the spurts of bass pumps to the harmonica domes.

"Hot Cookin'" has a fun vibe absorbed with rich bluesy vocals that move the melody into dips and peaks. Donovan Frankenreiter plays guitar on the track, but it's really the organ work of Steve Molltz that owns this number. "Can't Go Back To Jersey" has an animated vocal rhythm and a soulful organ jive by Mark Boyce. The gospel spells on the vocal melody for "Missing My Baby" are succor-flamed clamped by tightly sustained Wurlitzer notes. "Banger" features Blackalicious and Lateef the Truth Speaker on vocals emphasizing the hip hop features of G. Love's movements.

"Thanks and Praise" features Jasper with G. Love on vocals and an arrangement of chill out grooves and wreaths of toe tapping beats. "Let The Music Play" features Ben Harper and Marc Broussard on vocals. The slow hip swaying tempo of the melody is gentle and whimsical with an Island influx. "Beautiful" features the lush feminine vocals of Tristan Prettyman harmonizing with G. Love's vocal drumming. The harmonies are spellbinding with a creamy elegance. It's a seductive number with all the entrapments of romance and really brings out the finer points of G. Love's vocals. "Rainbow" features Jack Johnson and has all the classifications of a Johnson ditty with a traveling man motion and a drifter's mindset.

"Breakin' Up" is a sparse tune with G. Love on vocals and guitar and Jimi Prescott on upright bass. The thoughts in the lyrical phrases have a roaming air: "Won't you let me hug you/ Kiss you one more time…You know I can't hold back these tears." The following tune "Still Hangin' Around" with G. Love on vocals and 12-string guitar is an epilogue to "Breakin' Up," lingering through the same deep thoughts and still hanging on by a thread.

An unlisted track appears a few moments later, let's call it "Foolin'" since that's the chorus. It's an upbeat tempo with spikes of sharpness cutting through the melodic motions. G. Love's solo release is exactly what he set out to make. Songs that you can listen to and play along with while sitting on your front porch sipping a cool glass of lemonade... hence the title Lemonade.

-Susan Frances

Track Listing:
1. Ride
2. Ain't That Right
3. Hot Cookin'
4. Can't Go Back To Jersey
5. Missing My Baby
6. Holla!
7. Banger
8. Thanks And Praise
9. Let The Music Play
10. Free
11. Beautiful
12. Rainbow
13. Breakin' Up
14. Still Hangin' Around

Bonus Track
15. Foolin'


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