It’s been eight years since Grammy-nominated musical artist John Fulbright released an album.
And, once the album hit the limelight, he knocked it out in four days.
The new album, “The Liar”, was released Friday via Blue Dirt Records/Thirty Tigers. This is Fulbright’s third studio album. His debut, “From the Ground Up,” released in 2012, earned him a Grammy nomination for Best Americana Album. His only album between then and now is “Songs,” released in 2014, which rocked Billboard’s rock, folk and indie charts.
A question you might have about the time span between albums was posed in a biography on johnfullbrightmusic.com: the general public hasn’t heard much from him since the critically acclaimed “Songs,” an eight-year chasm that seemed unthinkable for an artist with so much hype surrounding his early career. Why did it take so long?
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“Honestly, I don’t know,” Fulbright told the site. “And that was the most frightening question to think about and the hardest to answer.”
Either way, “The Liar” is here, and the truth is, Oklahoma is everywhere.
Fullbright shares Okemah roots with Woody Guthrie but is currently based in Tulsa. He has an 8 p.m. concert on Sunday, October 2 at Fassler Hall and is scheduled to perform at a 5 p.m. album signing on Sunday, October 2 at Josey Records.
The new album was recorded at Steve and Charlene Ripley’s “farm to studio” facility in Pawnee. Steve Ripley – a musical artist, producer, inventor, ally of Eddie Van Halen and frontman of The Tractors – died in 2019.
Charlene flirted with the idea of selling ownership of the studio after Steve passed away, according to promotional material for Fullbright’s new album, so Fullbright hustled a band to record at Ripley’s ASAP. The group consisted of what Fulbright called “the usual suspects.” Among them: Jesse Aycock, Aaron Boehler, Paul Wilkes, Stephen Lee and Paddy Ryan. Fulbright’s online site said a few more friends stopped to take photos. They finished the songs and followed the album with engineer Jason Weinheimer in a four-day “whirlwind”.
Fullbright described it as a collaborative thing with really cool vocals.
“It’s like playing music in Tulsa,” he said. “Everyone does what they do, and it works.”
The 12-track album’s opening song is “Bearden, 1645”. Bearden is a map point in Okfuskee County, where the county seat is Okemah.
Fulbright’s online site suggested that the wait between albums may have been due to a tacit rejection of mounting industry pressure mixed with a bit of fear. “Or perhaps it was the adjustment to a massive upheaval in his lifestyle. Whether we witnessed it or not, this was a critical time of change for Fullbright, now in his thirties. Since his last release, he left rural Oklahoma — the aforementioned Bearden has a population of about 130 people — for Tulsa.
Once in Tulsa, Fullbright “worked to carve out a place for himself within the context of an established and vibrant musical coterie, often performing both as a bandleader and, more curiously, as a sideman: the legendary loner John Fullbright dragging a piano from this small stage to that with an unusual looseness.
Said Fulbright: “It’s been a process of learning to be in a community of musicians and to focus less on the lonely, depressed songwriter… just playing something that has a beat and is 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.
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