Though singer-songwriter Clay Fulton’s latest record is called “When Trouble Comes,” it’s no trouble at all to listen to its 12 original tracks. The album, recorded at Carpet Booth Studios, is a journey that crosses from hard-hitting hooks to delicate ballads, and many of its songs center on traveling, like “Heading Up North” and “Show Me State.”
During April, Fulton and his six-piece band, The Lost 40, will complete a residency at Thesis Beer Project to promote the new record. Every Wednesday from 7 to 9 p.m., Fulton and Co. will play their music on the outdoor stage at Thesis, along with guest acts including Jeremy Jewell on April 7, The Track Lighters on April 14, Drew Seisler on April 21, and Cash Francis Bayshore on April 28.
As a record, “When Trouble Comes” includes songs that seem familiar on first hearing. Fulton has a rasp that makes him sound like an old friend. The slight twang of country guitars and full organ sounds on some cuts are set off by the delicate sounds of bells on tracks like “Walls of St. Paul” and strings on “American Folk Song.”
Despite the upbeat drums on bouncy tunes like “Ain’t It True,” in its entirety, the album seems slightly melancholy, but it expresses real ideas about loss and hard work. As Fulton puts it, his record is about how love and life can both be hard when trouble comes your way.
Fulton’s path to complete the record took some time. Now 32, Fulton started taking guitar lessons when he was 5. He was born with a birth defect that requires him to wear a prosthetic leg.
“When I was young, my parents got me involved in guitar, not knowing how mobile I would end up being as I got older,” he said. While Fulton didn’t end up having mobility issues, the music is something he’s continued to love.
Fulton is no stranger to Rochester’s music scene. While he’s currently pursuing music full time, he said his 12 years working nights behind the bar at Brothers had an influence on some of his music.
“There are songs on the record that directly reflect that time in my life, both behind the bar and bellied up to one,” he said. “The songs that really speak to that are ‘Down on Broadway’ and ‘28 Days.’ Certainly not the happiest songs on the record, but you know exactly how I was living and feeling on those particular occasions.”
Most of the recording happened in August 2020, but the pandemic created a substantial delay for the release.
“When COVID surged the second time this fall, it got to a point where there was no rush to release the record,” Fulton said. “I didn’t want to release my album and have no shows to play it for people.”
All the guest acts for the residency have connections to Fulton’s larger musical family.
“It is a long list of friends, so we can all celebrate the new album together,” he said.
If you go
What: Clay Fulton and the Lost 40 residency and album release
Where: Thesis Beer Project, 1929 2nd St. SW, Rochester
When: 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesdays, April 7, 14, 21 and 28