Singer, guitarist, and folk music interpreter Jake Xerxes Fussell has distinguished himself as one of his generation’s preeminent interpreters of traditional (and not so traditional) “folk” songs, a practice which he approaches with a refreshingly unfussy lack of nostalgia. By recontextualizing ancient vernacular songs and sources of the American South, he allows them to breathe and speak for themselves and for himself; he alternately inhabits them and allows them to inhabit him. In all his work, Fussell humanizes his material with his own curatorial and interpretive gifts, unmooring stories and melodies from their specific eras and origins and setting them adrift in our own waterways.
Fussell’s new album Good and Green Again was released Jan 21, 2022 via Paradise of Bachelors. Produced by James Elkington, the record navigates fresh sonic and compositional landscapes and is, perhaps, his most conceptually focused to-date. Fussell and Elkington enlisted a group of formidable players hailing from Durham, North Carolina (where Fussell lives) and elsewhere, including regular bandmembers Casey Toll on upright bass, Libby Rodenbough on strings, and Nathan Golub on pedal steel. They were joined by welcome newcomers Joe Westerlund (Megafaun, Califone) on drums, Joseph Decosimo on fiddle, Anna Jacobson on brass, and Bonnie “Prince” Billy, who contributes additional vocals.
“…Fussell is the rare contemporary to approach folk in its pure form, shunning self-penned compositions about bummer relationships to concentrate on material handed down from bygone, hardened times.” – The New Yorker
“Jake Xerxes Fussell who is, to me, maybe the leading interpreter of American folk music right now…” – Ann Powers (NPR All Songs Considered)
“For (Fussell) a song is no older than the last time it was sung. His fourth album,
Good And Green Again is his most thoughtful, his most eloquent, and his most poignant explication of this idea.” – Uncut (Feb ’22 Album of the Month)
“Fussell, who has won admirers including Will Oldham, Wilco and Bill Callahan, is one of the great magpies of American song, collecting forgotten, tarnished gems with a folklorist’s zeal… his renditions aren’t so much cover versions as composites…” – The Guardian