By Martine Ehrenclou
Contemporary roots, rock and blues singer, songwriter, guitarist AJ Fullerton is set to release The Forgiver and the Runaway on March 26, his debut album with Vizztone Label Group and produced by Canadian award-winning multi-instrumentalist, Steve Marriner (MonkeyJunk).
The Forgiver and the Runaway features an all-star cast of musicians including Fullerton on guitar and vocals, Glenn Milchem and Matt Sobb on drums, Jesse O’Brien on keys, Aaron Goldstein on pedal steel, Anna Ruddick on bass, Jake Friel and Paul Reddick on harmonica. Fullerton wrote ten of the 12 songs, with two written by JD Taylor and Colin Linden.
From the mountains of rural western Colorado, Fullerton has received sixteen “Members Choice Awards” from the Colorado Blues Society in the categories Best Guitarist, Best Solo/Duo, Best Band, Best Male Vocals, Best Slide Guitar, and more.
AJ Fullerton might be young, but he’s got the musical goods. Soulful, distinctive vocals, tasty fingerpicking and slide guitar, combined with serious songwriting skills beyond his years, this roots/rock artist is on his way with The Forgiver and the Runaway. The album is not unlike a good novel that opens with a light touch, only to deepen and become riveting the further you dive in.
The album opens with “Remind Me Who I Am Again,” a laid back groove with Fullerton’s expressive vocals winding their way on this melodic tune about struggling against what seems like all odds. Sweet organ and guitar fills blend with gospel harmonies.
Album standout, “Say You’ll Stay,” gets the party started, a modern roots/rocker with gritty guitar and effects. Fullerton’s vocal is smoky, riding the driving beat. Kicking off with a catchy guitar hook and pulsating bass line, Fullerton is at his best on this killer tune. A smoking harmonica solo from Jake Friel lifts off mid-track before Fullerton comes back in swinging on vocals, backed by singers with a gospel feel. Tight drumming and bass lock things down on a song that certainly has the promise of a hit.
Another standout is the modern and swampy, “The Forgiver and the Runaway.” Fullerton’s guitar, gritty and moody, bounces with effects between percussive touches and dead-on drumming and bass. A haunting roots rocker, its down and dirty with Fullerton’s authentic vocal. Tuned down guitar lends to the unique swagger and gets under your skin in all the best ways.
The album just keeps getting better and better. “I Cried,” another roots rocker, is fueled by interesting melody and Fullerton’s powerful voice, a driving beat and emotional lyrics. “I cried but you missed it, Baby you were gone.” A song in a minor key about betrayal and loss, it’s buffered by expert harmonica riffs and harmonies.
It’s tracks like this and a few others that show AJ Fullerton as a standout artist, one whose music brims with interesting lyrics, energy, passion and a distinct sound.
Yet another standout is “I Wish You’d Tell Me,” a blues/roots rocker with great groove. With catchy six-string hooks and melodic, memorable guitar solos, Fullerton has this one in the palm of his hand. His voice steers the melody into the back room of a bar with a haunting and fearless sound. Harmonica jumps in with the perfect tone and style for this moody and rockin’ number.
And just when I thought this artist was in his element on the edgier, rocking tunes, “Homesick” proves me wrong. It’s a beautiful, country/blues tune that rolls in on a dime and sweeps you off your feet. A wistful lament about being on the road too long and the loneliness that comes along with it. Fullerton is soulful, sincere and you’ll believe him when he sings, “I’m homesick, but Darlin’ I can’t go home.” The pedal steel is just beautiful, almost ethereal, and a prominent sonic treat.
As a songwriter, singer, guitarist, AJ Fullerton is headed for greatness. The Forgiver and the Runaway is certainly his springboard.
Order/download link for The Forgiver and the Runaway
AJ Fullerton Online