Attention I.V. residents looking for new music to blast on their front porch that won’t torture neighbors, the search is over. G. Love is back with his Special Sauce crew, who hustled and bustled to create a funky folk album, filled with easy grooves, harmonica-backed blues and Philly rap that pushes you to freestyle, even if you can’t. On The Hustle, available on Jack Johnson’s Brushfire Recordings label, G. Love doesn’t lose his bluesy, laid-back roots, but experiments with a more intimate, sentimental approach than previous albums. It’s easy to find Johnson’s influence; he co-wrote the light reggae track “Give it to You” and produced three of the most mellow songs of the album. The two have a shared history; Johnson made his first appearance in 1999 on G. Love’s Philadelphonic, with the popular “Rodeo Clowns.”
The Hustle may be divided into two halves: the first is harder, with G. using vocal distortion on “Astronaut” and “Don’t Drop It!” to further distinguish his sound, leaving the lyrics messy and difficult to decipher. “Love” is an upbeat ’60s rockabilly song, fused with Southern slide guitar. After the lackadaisical title track, with G. preaching, “Everything’s a hustle but love,” the album takes a more sentimental approach. Most of the songs are acoustic, with Love singing beautifully over simple folk melodies. He shows maturity and sincerity, without sacrificing groove. The beautiful Dylan-esque “Loving Me,” contrasts well with “Stone Me,” an entrancing slow, rap jam with the vocals and music tracks melting into one another. The aptly titled “Front Porch Lounger” invites us to do just that. Get outside, crack a few beers, and let G. and the Special Sauce do what they do best: spread the love.
[As a super Jew, Aaron Small encourages you to check out Heeb Magazine. Thanks for the tip, Aaron.]