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Chris Fullerton

Epilepsy Blues – 2017 (Eight 30)

Reviewed by Robert Wooldridge

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CDs by Chris Fullerton

The debut from Austin-based Chris Fullerton is a mix of country, folk, blues and a touch of grunge rock. The pervasive dark mood hits with the opening "Bad Winds," with Fullerton's lonesome vocals ("Dread whiskey come set me free/I'm always low down") and the pedal steel of Ian Sutton recalling Hank Williams and the Drifting Cowboys. Even the Cajun-flavored "Ma Chere Amie" creates bleak imagery ("The mosquitos are full of the blood of my party guests") in what is otherwise a pleasantly comical love song.

Fullerton uses dark humor to address coping with illness as in the title track ("Well, if you're smart you'll see a neurologist/And if you ain't you'll find a girl that is" and "I Feel Nothing" ("And my head feels no pain/With a mouth full of medicine"). The bouncy Tex Mex tune "El Paso Spacedance" mixes the ominous ("Black boots click to the rhythm/And the dirty cops are having a ball") with a sentimental shout out to a hero ("Happy Birthday to you Buzz Aldrin/Happy Birthday to you old friend").

Other highlights are the edgy "Motel Blues" in which Fullerton seems to desire solitude ("I wish I was in a motel room/With nobody at my door" and "Goodbye to all my friends") featuring electronic feedback to open and close the track, and the closing "Seven Roman Candles" in which Fullerton's crusty vocals recall Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam.

Co-produced by Fullerton with Jay Berndt, the arrangements are effectively minimalist throughout with Fullerton's guitar work nicely augmented by Sutton's pedal steel guitar and Luke Willis on violin. With smart compositions and strong performances "Epilepsy Blues" reveals Fullerton to be a promising singer/songwriter.