It was the odd blend of blues, rock and hip-hop that put G. Love on the map in the 90s and got me hooked. G. Love is a great singer/songwriter and laid-back guitar player but the backbone of this band is Special Sauce, aka. Jimi “Jazz” Prescott on double-bass and Jeff “Houseman” Clemens on drums. Although this release is under G’s name only, the jazz chops of his two sidemen ensure that the music never gets boring or repetitive.
And yet, there were a few weak albums in the early 00s, and The Hustle is (to these ears) the album that marks G. Love finding his way again. The laid-back is still in there, but the rawness of his early releases is back, as demonstrated by the heavy opening number Astronaut. Over the years, G. Love added some country influences to the mix as well, which blend surprisingly well with the groovy instrumentations of Jimi and Jeff.
This is a great introduction to the world of G. Love. It has the right mix of serious-ish numbers and fun poppy tracks. It’s not as mainstream and well polished as subsequent albums will become and (to my ears) is the last really solid G. Love release. Songs such as the Fishing Song, Back of the Bus or even the saucy Booty Call are fun and groovy. Others, like The Hustle or Sunshine are more melancholy. It’s a coherent listen that will often have you tapping your feet.
A great album overall, fun and musically interesting at the same time; pop but not so much that it loses its edge.