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Record Review

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Arguably Philly's most significant musical export since Gamble met Huff, G. Love and his Special Sauce trio is certainly among the most eclectic. Known for his remarkably nonchalant meshing of hip-hop, blues, jazz, ska and rock, Love -- who oddly goes by his real name Garrett Dutton in the album's credits -- has wiggled into Meters-style funk on his fifth album. He also throws in a country tune, further pushing the elastic boundaries of his band. The results add substantially to Love's already uncategorizable approach. Most importantly, his insanely gifted band never misses a step.

What makes the musical genre-jumping work is Love's unpretentious, rootsy approach. He's as comfortable tickling the chicken-scratch New Orleans funk/jazz/rap of "Praise Up" as on the violin-driven Memphis swamp "Night of the Living Dead" that follows it. Jim Prescott's malleable stand-up bass adds an earthy feel to even the most hip-hoppable material, such as the catchy "Parasite," which explodes with guest John Medeski's powerful Wurlitzer and clavenette solos. Even when Love goes the singer/songwriter route on "Free at Last" and the R&B "Shy Girl," his ragged vocals and charming delivery elevate ordinary material that would hamstring lesser talents.

Like the lowly cheese steak sandwiches endemic to his hometown, G. Love adds unusual spices to his menu, turning seemingly mismatched ingredients into a hearty and unforgettable meal.

G. Love & Special Sauce play the On the Bricks concert series at Centennial Park Fri., July 6.

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