The debut album from Philadelphian outfit G. Love & Special Sauce is smooth, spirited, and very cool in character. At least, it is for about 15 minutes. It thrives on its youthful essence and does so assuredly, but this novelty wears off quickly. G. Love and Special Sauce begins in extremely mellow fashion with a loose version of “The Things That I Used to Do”, and never reaches any real level of vigour beyond this.
What is offered at the start is essentially what you get for the entire album. G. Love & Special Sauce are very comfortable with their sound, but with the comfort comes safety, and it’s this cautious approach that keeps the record from hitting another gear. Unadventurous production means it’s difficult to distinguish one track from another, and can even discredit dynamic and ambitious instances of songwriting heard on the best cuts. Some of these highlights — “Garbage Man” and “Fatman” in particular — would have thrived with more attention on their overall sound, offering distinction from the rest of the tracklist.
Instead, G. Love and Special Sauce tends to blend into one hazy blur, albeit a rather pleasant one. There are some great tracks, but I’d recommend seeking out “Baby’s Got Sauce” and “Cold Beverage” on their own as opposed to sitting through the entire experience. It’s perfectly fine, and definitely fits the bill for Summer. The aesthetic could just do with sharpening.
6 out of 10
Some albums endure through the honesty of their sound. They commit to it, execute with pizzazz, and hit a few spells of frisson. G. Love and Special Sauce is one of those albums. Sloppy hip-hop blues stay loose for an hour here, and although I’d be lying if I said the record doesn’t feel its length at times, the best bits are fabulous.
“Cold Beverage”, appropriately cool in character, never fails to conjure visions of sunshine with a lemon garnish, and “Shooting Hoops” is (probably) exactly how it feels to kick back after a long day and play some basketball. As the track names hint at, G. Love doesn’t exactly burrow deep with his subject matter, but then so what? Simplicity has its own power, as we all well know.
The group is tight, their sound is crisp and spirited, and their mood is something to share in. It doesn’t take much of a leap to visualise them rocking out on a Philadelphia sidewalk during the summertime. If lazy, warm, intimate hip-hop blues is the order of the day, this ought to whet your appetite — if only as a refreshing snack.
7 out of 10
This my first experience of G. Love and Special Sauce, but it’s undoubtedly a fun, summery listen. With each track underpinned by energetic hip-hop beats from drummer Jeffrey Clemens and distinctive vocal and harmonica work from Garrett Dutton, their debut gets off to a roaring start. The production lends itself perfectly to the ‘sunglasses music’ sound, with shimmering guitar stabs, slender double bass slides, and silky smooth vocal delivery aplenty across the album.
Highlights are well spread, at least across the first half of the tracklist, with “Blues Music” leaning as far back as one can go, and “Cold Beverage” giving off hints of early Red Hot Chilli Peppers work. Unfortunately for this eponymous release, though, it doesn’t go much further than that. It sounds great, and it has a similar sound throughout its hour play time, but ‘similar’ really requires emphasis here, as there’s little further development from the opening tracks.
This blur reduces its impact noticeably, which is a shame given how enjoyable the overall sound is. There’s nothing bad here, and I’ll be returning to a few choice tracks, but as a whole I’m left in such a laid-back, sunny daze by it that it’s been and gone without me noticing.
6 out of 10