After a brief gap since his latest release (Global Griot, 2018), the traditional blues veteran Eric Bibb just released Dear America, his 23rd studio-solo album. Featuring a bunch of guests, Dear America has carved an actual ode to America’s history, passing through the glory, pain, fighting, and bitter moments.
The album starts with the frugal “Whole Lotta Lovin’”, featuring legendary bassist Ron Carter. In spite of the minimalistic melodic approach (one of the main Bibb trademarks), the harmonic changes, mainly led by Ron’s basslines, and the triviality of the lyrics bring a joyful and calm sensation. Overflowing sensibility, Bibb gathers with Shaneeka Simon in the pleasant “Born Of A Woman”. Musically, the dissonant loose strings in between the fingered chords as well as the raspy and emotive Shaneeka vocals are perfect. Lyrically, they use a series of women’s disrespectful events to serves as a reminder to all men to think about where all they come from.
Referring not only to the pandemic on “Whole World’s Got The Blues” Bibb invited a heavy-weight team (Steve Jordan on drums and Eric Gales on guitars) to remember the blues is universal music. With highly emotive and anti-racist content, the title track “Dear America” uses the most traditional blues music structure to highlight the recent events that happened in the US, especially George Floyd’s death. Keeping the same pace and theme, “Different Picture” features Chuck Campbell (from NY’s Campbell Brothers”) on pedal steel. “Tell Yourself” and “Along The Way” have more contemplative lyrics, fulfilled with some “good advice” delivered through a nice melodic fingerstyle acoustic song.
The acclaimed British producer Glen Scott, also co-responsible for Bibb’s Jericho Road (2013) gives the perfect approach to highlight all the nuances of Bibb’s music. One example is “Emmett’s Ghost”, also featuring Ron Carter, where all the emotions and singularities can be perceived in the breath and finger attack, naturally present in the recording. “White & Black” reflects on the pre-concept and prejudgment ingrained in people, that goes regardless of their will or thoughts. Aside from that, it’s a nice song that incorporates pedal steel, electric guitars, and keyboards.
Bibb goes deeper into the blues roots with the two-part and eight minutes long “Talkin’ ‘Bout A Train”. In part 1, a more traditional sound is heard with guest Billy Branch and his unmistakable harmonica. Part 2 has totally different approach, a modern drum beat leads the contrasting rhythm followed by all the other music elements. The good-mood track “Love’s Kingdom” features special guests Tommy Sims and Glen Scott, who also share the vocals. The song resembles Stevie Wonder’s R&B, perfectly balanced with the acoustic and Bibb’s vocal musicality. The closing song is the emotive “One-ness Of Love”, featuring the gospel vocal of Lisa Mills.
Throughout the years and his discography, Eric Bibb has proved to be one of the remnants of the traditional blues musicians, still preserving the acoustic guitar as his main instrument. Yet, his music also perseveres as relevant and timeless not only bringing every day topics but also embodying social issues and reflective-philosophical thoughts.
The Review: 8.5/10
Can’t Miss Tracks
– Born Of A Woman
– Along The Way
– White & Black
– Love’s Kingdom
The Big Hit
– Born Of A Woman