G. Love & Special Sauce
“I’ve been in the game a long time, but I’ve always considered myself a student,” says G. Love. “Finishing this album with Keb Mo’ felt like graduation.”
Recorded in Nashville with a slew of special guests including Robert Randolph, Marcus King, and Roosevelt Collier, ‘The Juice’ is indeed diploma-worthy. Co-produced and co-written with GRAMMY-winning icon Keb Mo’, it’s an electrifying collection, one that tips its cap to more than a century of blues greats even as it offers its own distinctly modern pop spin on the genre, mixing programmed beats and hip-hop grooves with blistering guitar and sacred steel. G. Love’s lyrics are both personal and political here, artfully balancing his appreciation for the simple joys in life with his obligation to speak out for justice and equality, and his performances are suitably riotous and rousing to match, with infectious call-and-response hooks and funky sing-along choruses at every turn. Easy as it is to succumb to cynicism these days, the songs on ‘The Juice’ refuse, insisting instead on hope and determination in the face of doubt and despair.
“I’ve always tried to make music that’s a force for positivity,” G. Love explains. “It was important to me that this album be something that could empower the folks who are out there fighting the good fight every day. I wanted to make a rallying cry for empathy and unity.”
Born Garrett Dutton in Philadelphia, PA, G. Love grew up equally enthralled with folk, blues, and rap, devouring everything from Lead Belly and Run D.M.C. to John Hammond and the Beastie Boys. After migrating to Boston, he and his band, Special Sauce, broke out in 1994 with their Gold-selling self-titled debut, which earned widespread critical acclaim for its bold vision and adventurous production. Over the next twenty-five years, G. Love would go on to release seven more similarly lauded studio studios albums with Special Sauce (plus four solo albums on his own), solidifying his place in music history as a genre-bending pioneer with a sound The New York Times described as “a new and urgent hybrid” and NPR called a “musical melting pot.” G. Love’s magnetic stage presence, meanwhile, made him a fixture on festival lineups from Bonnaroo to Lollapalooza, and his relentless appetite for tour and collaboration landed him on the road and in the studio with artists as diverse as Lucinda Williams, Dave Matthews, The Avett Brothers, Jack Johnson, and DJ Logic.
“I’ve never been the kind of guy who thinks he’s going to change the world with his guitar,” reflects G. Love. “But maybe I can write the kind of songs that give strength and encouragement to the people who are out there doing the work to make this planet a better place. Those are the people I want to lift up with my music.”
When G. Love sings about making the world a better place, he’s not just singing about politics, though, and ‘The Juice’ serves as a beautiful exploration of the ways we can brighten our own little worlds and the worlds of those we care about on a daily basis. The gritty “SoulBQue” is a celebration of community and friendship, while the rootsy “She’s The Rock” pays tribute to all the little ways lovers can lift each other up, and the breezy “Diggin’ Roots” spins cultivating a garden into a metaphor for the importance of tending to your home and family and neighbors.
“I was going through a tough time in my life when I met my fiancé, but my whole world seemed to turn around after that,” says G. Love. “I started meditating, we had a son, and we moved out to the Cape. That’s when I stopped writing breakup songs and started writing love songs and family songs and friendship songs.”
Life is good for G. Love these days, and he’s not taking a moment of it for granted. In fact, in just the past few years alone he’s launched his own beer collaboration with Oregon’s Good Life Brewery (The Juice IPA), started his own festival in Massachusetts (The Cape Cod Roots & Blues Festival), and founded his own record label, Philadelphonic, which he aims to use as an outlet for curating both music and visual art (the cover of ‘The Juice’ features a brand new work G. Love commissioned from renowned painter Greg Haberny).
“I’m more inspired right now than I’ve ever been before,” G. Love reflects. “I feel more thoughtful, seasoned, marinated, confident. I’m making the records I’ve always wanted to make.”
Cue “Pomp and Circumstance.”