G. Love has made a successful career out of his infectious blend of hip-hop and the blues. On his new album, Fixin’ to Die, the Philadelphia-based G. Love (real name Garrett Dutton) has peeled back a few layers, put the freestyle rapping aside, and delivered a spirited yet reverent homage to old school blues. Helping him on the journey were Scott and Seth Avett of the Avett Brothers, who brought G. Love to Echo Mountain Recording Studio in Asheville. Together, the trio churned out a dusty, largely acoustic mix of traditional covers, plenty of Love originals, and a surprise reworking of Paul Simon’s “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover.”
What inspired you to finally fully embrace old blues? This is a record I’ve been trying to make for a very long time. This is a style I was into before I stumbled onto the hip-hop side of what I do. I started as singer-songwriter playing the coffeehouse circuit, when I was in high school in Philadelphia. When I decided I was going to do it, I made a wish list of possible producers, and the Avett Brothers were at the top.
Why were the Avett Brothers right for this project? With those guys, the energy and creativity was constantly crackling. They are both multi-instrumentalists, great vocalists, and great songwriters. Right away, just the three of us could go into a room and create a huge variety of sounds. They both sing beautifully, so adding layers of harmonies or additional lead vocals was a piece of cake. They also both have great ideas. When they work, they’re really supportive of each other but they also push each other. They’re decisive without a lot of second-guessing, which is a struggle for a lot of artists. And they’re easy-going guys, so even though we were in a high-pressure situation with time constraints, they kept it fun with a lot of laughs.
What was it like recording in Asheville? Echo Mountain is a beautiful space to record. You walk into that old church and immediately get a good vibe. The Avett Brothers have done a lot of recording there, so they were already very comfortable with the space and the gear. It helped me get right into the comfort zone. I don’t think I’ve ever had a better nine days in my life.