"Sugar," the new studio album to be released April 22 by G. Love & Special Sauce, is not at all the album Love thought he was ready to release when he returned home from a recording session in Seattle last year.
Love, aka Garrett Dutton, had accomplished what has become standard procedure for one of his albums. He brings a stack of new songs to Emmett Malloy, president of Brushfire Records. Malloy and his committee review the songs, offer critiques and eventually choose a group of tunes that are likely to make the album.
Who: G. Love & Special Sauce
When: 8 p.m. Thursday, April 3
Where: Rogue Theatre, 143 S.E. H St., Grants Pass
Call: 541-471-1316 or see www.roguetheatre.com
"Every one of the tunes is, like, my song, so it's a little hard to hear, 'This verse needs to be rewritten' or 'This groove is nothing,' " Love says during a telephone interview. "It's pretty hardcore. So a lot of (stuff) gets left on the cutting-room floor. But I've made myself comfortable with the process."
But the process for "Sugar" became less comfortable than usual for Love.
"After the Seattle session, I was, like, wow, we really did it. We really got it this time," Love says. "Then we played it for the label, and they all felt like it was falling short. I was really (mad), man."
That wasn't the end of the confusion for Love. The committee further said they liked only one song from the Seattle session, "Come Up Man." Ironically, that song had been rejected in the initial review. Love recorded it anyway, feeling the song brought a different direction to his funky blend of blues, hip-hop, folk and rock.
He also decided he'd give Malloy and the group what they wanted — an entire album built off "Come Up Man."
"I went back and picked out all of the tunes that fit in with that song," Love says. "That's how we got this record."
Actually, Love got something more with "Sugar." He actually got a CD that took him back to his 1994 debut album, "G. Love and Special Sauce."
For the second recording session at Brushfire's solar-powered studio in Los Angeles, Love reunited with Jimi "Jazz" Prescott and Jeffrey "Houseman" Clemens — original members of Special Sauce.
Like their 1994 self-titled debut album, "Sugar" also was recorded live in the studio by Love, Prescott and Clemens. Love feels the new album draws from the same blues and hip-hop influences that shaped the debut record.
"Sugar," though, is not a rerun of the first album. Where the debut was laid back, with Love frequently rapping his lyrics over songs that featured mostly acoustic instrumentation, "Sugar" has a decidedly harder edge.
"Come Up Man," the album's opening track, sets the tone with Love unleashing some electric slide guitar around a greasy hard-hitting groove generated by Prescott and Clemens. Songs that follow, such as "Nite Life" (a song that could have been on a classic War album), "Good Life" (with Love letting loose on harmonica), "Nothing Else Quite Like Home" (reminiscent of Ben Harper)" and the sharp and sassy title song also fit the rocking blues and hip-hop mold.
Now, the reunion of the original members is getting extended to live shows as the trio tours through mid-April — promoting "Sugar" and celebrating the 20th anniversary of the '94 debut album. Shows will feature songs from the new album as well as material from Love's 10 other albums.
"It should be fun," Love said. "We're going to really play the record as it goes. A lot of times we jam out on songs, but this time we're going to stick to the arrangements and keep things tight on the first set. We'll wait until the second set to really bust loose."
G. Love & Special Sauce will perform at 8 p.m. Thursday, April 3, at the Rogue Theatre, 143 S.E. H St., Grants Pass. Tickets cost $25 for general seating and can be purchased online at www.roguetheatre.com or by calling 541-471-1316.