Jake Xerxes Fussell - What In The Natural World
(Paradise of Bachelors)
In this age of uncertainty and constant technological upheaval, it can feel quite rewarding to return to our roots. To the American south and the folk tradition. Jake Xerxes Fussell has made that his career.
After a sweet and underappreciated self-titled LP from 2015, he’s back with another set of rusted out folk songs from our past. For What In The Natural World, he’s sourced songs by obscure songwriters Helen Cockram, Loy Clingman, Jimmy Driftwood as well as Duke Ellington. He resurrects these songs with a newfound sense of humor, rustic joy and quieted beauty while preserving the old traditions they came from.
His version of “Bells of Rhymney” (made popular by Pete Seeger as well as the Byrds), adds in a bit of whimsy and jangle alongside Fussell’s ruddy tenor. Better yet is his take on an old bit of ridiculous verse from medicine shows, “Billy Button.” What could feel like a gag, instead comes off like a lovely spiritual with Nathan Bowles nicely stepping in with graceful strands of piano and reverberated melodica.
What In The Natural World sounds beautiful in its simplicity. Some serious credit needs to be given to contributor Bowles for his restrained and naturalistic contributions on lap steel, piano and drums and Jason Meagher for his pristine and atmospherically rich recording. But Xerxes Fussell is the showman here and hopefully we'll hear more of his talents in the years to come. (Dom)
Check out a track here.