Album Reviews

G-Love – Superhero Brother

(Brushfire) UK release date: 11 August 2008

What do you get if you cross Jack Johnson, a softer bit of Jurassic 5 and a harmonica?

A painful condition you might think. Musically, it’s something a bit closer to G-Love, who quickly follow up last year’s Lemonade album with another long player that doesn’t shy away from posing a few political questions and endorsing world peace – doing so at a pretty relaxed tempo, having kicked off its shoes.

Yet whereas Lemonade was chilled out, having a blissful smoke around the fire, Superhero Brother doesn’t feel quite so natural, and seems to have beefed up the instrumentation rather more than it needed to. So front man Garrett Dutton spends a bit too much time on his harmonica, and a gaggle of brass instruments succeed in relegating bassist Jim Prescott and drummer Jeff Clemens to the back of the sound picture whenever they’re employed.

This is a shame, as the trio are most effective when drawing on their laid-back hip hop roots, which when fused with lighter blues and soft rock influences are quietly effective. Introduce more noise and the subtle delights are gone.

There are however some keenly observed lyrical vignettes from Dutton. These perhaps don’t include the spelling out of �communicat’ in the first song Communication, stopping short of the full word – perhaps intentionally – to move on elsewhere. Peace Love & Happiness, though, is right on the money with its sentiments of disarming and finding world peace, delivered in a poignant and understated way rather than in the form of an empty torch song.

Towards the end he gets more passionate, and Georgia Brown audibly steps up a gear – rather revealing, as it leaves the earlier parts of the album flatter by comparison. Nice to see a respectful note, though, in Grandmother, where Dutton sounds like he’s singing about his own as he notes “you’ve seen it all”.

This is what could be termed a healthy dose of parent-friendly hip hop, though now and again it threatens to spoil its reputation as it comes close to one of those dreadful �friend chip’ adverts. Thankfully Dutton pulls out of that just in time, leaving us with an easily digested summer album that isn’t too deep, but not lightweight at the same time.

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More on G-Love
G-Love – Superhero Brother
G-Love – Lemonade