It’s always been a challenge to describe G. Love & Special Sauce. The Philadelphia singer, songwriter and guitarist, born Garrett Dutton, resides in the nebulous nexus of blues and hip hop, leaving us to wonder what the hip blues sound like and how to get down to the blues hop. And on G. Love’s 10th studio album with Special Sauce, Love Saves The Day, the band cites the modern electric blues as particular influences. But what distinguishes Love Saves The Day the most is its range of special guests.
While Dutton has named John Lee Hooker, Bukka White, A Tribe Called Quest and Gangstarr as influences for this record, the guest artists on the record don’t really fall in those same categories. The 12 tracks on Love Saves The Day feature the likes of Lucinda Williams, Clarence Greenwood of Citizen Cope, Ozomatli, DJ Logic and David Hildago of Los Lobos. In fact, with half of the record falling into the category of duet, it’s almost easier to consider Love Saves The Day more like a concept record or a collaborative experiment.
Because, as a whole, Love Saves The Day doesn’t really follow a traditional blues structure or narrative. “Back To Boston,” “Lil’ Run Around,” and the energetic interpretation of Lead Belly’s “New York City” with Lucinda Williams certainly do, but they are, in fact, the minority. While Dutton puts his fuzz pedal to good use on songs like “That Girl” and throws down a sick harmonica solo on “Dis Song,” some sonic crunch does not a blues record make. And with inane, attempt-at-sexy songs like “Peanut Butter Lips” (the lyrics to which are as indecipherable as trying to say the name of the song itself with peanut butter stuck to the roof of your mouth), Love Saves The Day won’t really make a heart ache, either. Ultimately, Love Saves The Day is a competent studio record made exponentially more interesting by the diverse collaborations. But more importantly for G. Love & Special Sauce, the new songs are sure to be a riot live.