Eric Bib

Eric Bib
Deeper In The Well

Stony Plain Records SPCD 1360

By David Wilson
May 2012

Eric Bibb is talented. It could be in the genes, or it might be a result of growing up in a family deeply immersed in the music and the culture of a certain time and a certain place.

Eric Bibb is the son of Leon Bibb, iconic black singer of the ‘50s and ‘60s, one of those performers who paved the way for my personal discovery of country blues and gospel, as well as field songs and the field recordings of black musicians.

Eric does not continue the art of his dad so much as he absorbs and broadens it, reinterprets and refreshes it. The result is a charming and highly listenable collection of chestnuts, self-penned compositions, and well-chosen songs from the repertoires of Taj Mahal and Bob Dylan.

To designate “Boll Weevil” and “Sinner Man” as chestnuts is begging the question a bit. Neither the field song, “Boll Weevil,” nor the spiritual, “Sinner Man,” as arranged and performed here are much like their familiar oft-recorded versions of old. Both are given contemporary treatment, fresh, novel and far more intimate than I have ever heard in the past. The same can be said for Dylan’s “The Times They Are A Changing.”

Eric refuses to trap himself within the restrictive blues forms that dull the artistry of many performers, yet he never strays so far from those forms that we wonder what the music is about. Poetry, passion and personal expression are stamped on every phrase, infused with the echoes of field hollers and juke joint joy. The preacher’s ringing sermon and the choirs response lingers faintly as chords fade.

It is reputed that Dylan, while visiting the Bibbs during Eric’s youth, noticed him noodling on the guitar. His one piece of advice to Eric was to “keep it simple.” If simple meant clean, economical and precise, Eric put the advice to good use. The accompaniment on each of these tunes is to the point with little if any excess. Yet it is always sufficient to the material and magnetic to our attention.

Quoting Eric’s lyrics for his composition “Music,”

His love and enthusiasm comes through on every cut. This is a fresh and very satisfying bounty of blues flavored tunes..

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