G.Love - Lemonade Review
by Patrick Muldowney
The self-titled debut of G. Love and Special Sauce was met with many accolades in the mid-90s. I recall my roommate bringing it home (on vinyl, I believe), and spinning the album with some interest. It was not original, but it was fresh, and it was definitely listenable. Since that time, he has evolved into a pioneer of this sound, which combines folk, blues, and hip hop into some small pop/rock niche. Jack Johnson might be the most well-known disciple, although he adds his beach element instead of the street element, so it makes sense G. Love has found his way onto Johnson's Brushfire Records. The record deal though, may seem like little more than a kind gesture, if Lemonade is the best product G. Love can deliver.
On songs like "Can't Go Back to Jersey" and "Holla", G. Love seems about as genuine as Buckwild from the 2nd season of Flavor of Love. "Like dat, and ya don't stop." This classic line drives home the legitimacy of "Can't…", which mixes harmonica and Salt 'n Pepa-like microphone breaths into a song about being down and out in the world of relationships. Those who have been upset that Bruce Willis didn't continue his career as a career might champion this gem. "Holla", in similar fashion, utilizes the ebonics G. Love learned from his tough life growing up on the streets of Philly. Maybe he needed to scrounge up change for cheese steaks. On his street they must have been slanging to some John Cougar also (that's how rough it was), because he raps/scats about "static aggravation" while borrowing life lessons from "Jack and Diane". This mixture of words, sounds, and ideas, represents the essence of the problematic Lemonade. It is difficult to enjoy the company of something that's blowing smoke up your backside. As G. Love continually cut 'n pasted his album with catch phrases, stolen phrases, and mindless rhymes, I kept questioning where I could find G. Love. I'm still not sure. Many tracks, and especially the two previously discussed, seem like jokes without a punch line to let the listener know it's okay to laugh.
A nice bit of salvation from this increasing bad album occurs on "Breakin' Up", the second to last track on the album. Predominantly featuring G. Love's vocals and acoustic guitar, this song has a more genuine heartbreak present. He displays a realization of the complexities of loss, and the conflicting torment of wanting to break free and hold on when you've spent a long time with someone. This is not a complete departure for G. Love, or even Lemonade, as it naturally includes some of the slang, or "special sauce", but since it is not forced, it is not trite. If you're looking for another bright spot, throw the enhanced disc into your computer; the Love song and video are entertaining.
G. Love wants to represent what is good, and fun, about music, but having fun should not require complete loss of brain function, and for most of Lemonade that is what he is expecting us to do.
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G.Love - Lemonade
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