Today, JakeXerxesFussell is pleased to announce his third album, Out of Sight, out June7th on ParadiseofBachelors, alongside the album’s first single, “The River St. Johns,” which premiered earlier this morning onNPR Music’s All Songs Considered. Of the track, Jake writes:
‘The River St. Johns’ comes straight from one of Stetson Kennedy’s Florida WPA recordings of a gentleman named Harden Stuckey doing his interpretation of a fishmonger’s cry, which he recalls from a childhood memory. What compelling imagery there: “I’ve got fresh fish this morning, ladies / They are gilded with gold, and you may find a diamond in their mouths.” I can’t help but believe him.
On his third and most finely wrought album yet, guitarist, singer, and master interpreter Fussell is joined for the first time by a full band featuring NathanBowles (drums), CaseyToll (bass), NathanGolub (pedal steel), LibbyRodenbough (violin, vocals), and JamesAnthonyWallace (piano, organ). An utterly transporting selection of traditional narrative folksongs addressing the troubles and delights of love, work, and wine (i.e., the things that matter), collected from a myriad of obscure sources and deftly metamorphosed, Out of Sight contains, among other moving curiosities, a fishmonger’s cry that sounds like an astral lament (“The River St. Johns”); a cotton mill tune that humorously explores the unknown terrain of death and memory (“Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues”); and a fishermen’s shanty/gospel song equally concerned with terrestrial boozing and heavenly transcendence (“Drinking of the Wine”).
Read Bonnie “Prince” Billy’s essay on Fussell below.
In our house we’ve listened to more Jake Fussell than any other individual artist over the past year, with the possible exception of Laurie Spiegel. We’ve had the opportunity to witness several intimate performances of Fussell’s (to my mind, he creates a new standard for the value of up-close musical experience) here in Louisville. As long as Jake Fussell is making records and playing shows, there is ample cause for optimism in this world.
Fussell’s repertoire, and the manner in which he creates, constructs and presents it, displays such a beautiful and complex relationship to time and currency. He’s able to listen to and understand the presence of an old recording, of crusty dusty written-out pieces of music and memories of musical encounters. And then he overlays his own now-ness on those pre-existing presences so that the lives of older musical forces, in effect, link arms with Fussell’s in-progress trajectory and skip down the brick road, picking up desperate and willing compatriots along the way. Meaning: Jake lives in music as a true time-artist, using the qualities of time itself as irreplaceable elements of content.
When Jake sings a sad song, he presents it in such a way that makes me want to say “Hey, but everything’s okay because you’re Jake Xerxes Fussell!” Hopefully it’s okay by him that I wouldn’t accept full-fledged nihilism from him even if he were standing naked on the ledge of a tall building with “this World is Shit” written on his shaved chest in, well, shit. His deal with his songs is too strong and blatantly valuable.
— Bonnie “Prince” Billy
For those in the NYC area, Fussell will play BrooklynFolkFest on Fri. April 5. Tickets are available [brooklynfolkfest.com/tickets/]here.