Having high academic credentials and transforming them into music can be both a blessing and a curse. The artist in question can come up with some high brow, impenetrable music, or he can turn all that knowledge into something quite fascinating, allowing the listener to peel back the layers within the music with every listen.
Jake Xerxes Fussell has such credentials – he earned a master’s degree from the Center for the Study of Southern Culture in Oxford, Mississippi and his obvious source of interest in music originated in the South: blues, folk, and all sorts of root music.
Yet, instead of just being a good student whose sole purpose is to replicate sounds, Fussel seems to be on a path to assimilate those sounds and then come up with his vision and view of them.
Good and Green Again, his fourth album, shows that he doesn’t only know those sounds of the South well, but he has the capabilities, both as a songwriter, interpreter, guitarist, and singer, to transform them into something quite personal, yet holding a firm connection to the origins of those sounds.
Essentially, Fussell is able to bring those centuries-old sounds into our modern times without cutting the umbilical cord that connects them. While Fussell continues to re-interpret traditional material, this time around he also presents his own compositions, and it is often hard to distinguish the interpretations from original material, as he is able to infuse his personality and combine it with tradition.
The music he presents on Good and Green Again is both good (actually excellent) and green. Both again and for the first time.