Reviewed March 2007
By Eric Bibb
Telarc Records: 2007
To hear sound clips or learn more about this release, Turbula recommends viewing its Amazon.com entry.
Guitarist/vocalist Eric Bibb has the look of an old-time Delta bluesman. The cover photo on his latest CD offering, "Diamond Days" features a black-and-white shot of the artist in an old-fashioned fedora, leaning on his guitar and gazing off in a pensive pose; and the disc itself opens with the light pop of a phonograph needle sinking into old vinyl then scratching into the groove, a lead-in to a shimmering original tune, "Tall Cotton."
The opener sets the tone for the set: Bibb's lilting twelve-string guitar work and smooth, soulful voice backed by gospel-like lady singer background vocals, a sound that's a long way from, say, the rough-hewn barbed-wire guitar string attack of the classic Robert Johnson (King of the Delta blues singers) recordings.
Eric Bibb comes from a musical family. His father, Leon, sang in musical theater and the '60's New York folk scene; and his uncle was none other than pianist John Lewis, of the Modern Jazz Quartet. His "Diamond Days" mixes up an accessible stew of R&B, folk and blues. The title tune features an infectious rhythm with a sweet harmonica weaving in and out of Bibb's strumming. "So Glad," featuring organ and a couple of backing horns, has the feeling of a Solomon Burke song another artist who blends styles beautifully.
Ten of the twelve tunes on the disc are Bibb originals. One cover, Bob Dylan's "Buckets of Rain," is done simply and reverently, with Martin Simpson's acoustic guitar glowing behind Dylan's pretty melody. Bibb closes the show with the traditional "Worried Man Blues," recorded most famously by the Kingston Trio back in the early '60s. Bibb gives his version a relaxed, back porch, country feeling, with banjo, lap steel guitar and harmonica.
"Diamond Days" is a beautifully done and upbeat folk/blues set.
Review by Dan McClenaghan. Dan is a writer living in Oceanside, Calif. Read his biography on his AllAboutJazz.com page.