G. Love & Special Sauce "Sugar

G. Love & Special Sauce reunite to explore a broad array of music based in American roots.

It’s been five years since Garrett Dutton, aka, G. Love teamed with his band Special Sauce. Following solo albums and working with a variety of musicians Dutton returns to his band mates drummer Jeffrey “Houseman” Clemens and Jimi “Jazz” Prescott who plays stand-up bass. For the inside photo of the release the trio recreate the pose featured on their first album from twenty years ago, but if you think this is a suggestion that the music is also a recreation of those early songs think again.

Sugar is a wild amalgamation of Dutton’s musical interest with roots Americana as the base. Dutton has been diving deeper into traditional blues and early rock influences over the past decade so it isn’t surprising that he opens the release with a Elmore James inspired guitar riff on the rocking “Come Up Man.” The song is more talking blues than rap as Dutton warns or promises a lover of his imminent arrival. “Night Life” mixes funky harmonica with ska beats. By the time we hit the third track Dutton’s into a heavy bass take on a John Hooker tune. “Sugar” features rapping over an infectious organ anchored melody.

Dutton and Special Sauce are joined by a number of outstanding guests including the ubiquitous Ben Harper (is he on every other album released?) and Marc Broussard singing backing vocals on the single “Nothing Quite Like Home.” Shamarr Allens adds vocals to “Weekend Dance,” and David Hildago of Los Lobos and Eric Krasno of Soulive expand the roll of guitar in the arrangements. But the appearance of Merry Clayton on “One Night Romance” is one of the highlights. Clayton, who sang that unforgettable backup to Mick Jagger on “Gimme Shelter” was featured in the Academy Award winning documentary 20 Feet From Stardom. Here she duets with Dutton the a song that sounds like it stepped out of the early 1970s’ soul scene. “Windshield Wipers” sounds like something from Beck’s Sea Change album, a pensive study of an ended love affair.Perhaps the most surprising sound is the bouncy string-infused “Cheating Heart.” This type of arrangement is a first for Dutton and the crew. Obviously Garrett Dutton is a music lover who has decided it’s time to try a few new tricks with his long time musical buddies.  

Rosemary Welsch (Afternoon Mix)