Surrounding himself with a host of fantastic musicians who seemingly walk in similar musical stride, Eric Bibb has released his fourth CD for the American EarthBeat Records. The folk-blues artist, who lives in Sweden, has been showered with awards and acclaim and compared to some of the legends that he calls mentors. A disciple of folk, the blues, and world beats, Bibb has carved himself an opportunistic niche that banks on good time music and optimistic lyricism. He has enjoyed success across genres and listening audiences, and this biscuit reaffirms why that is!
Help on this effort includes: Clapton bassist Dave Bronze, who also produces this disc; Robbie McIntosh, from the Pretenders and Wings, who is heard on the guitar, and Henry Spinetti (Clapton & Tina Turner) setting time on the drum kit. Also here is: Janne Petersson on the keys and strings; guitarists Richard Studholme, Colin Linden, and Chuck Anthony; Hans Theessink playing mandolin; drummer David Rokeach; Jon Saas on tuba; along with Christer Lyssarides on the dobro slide guitar. Background vocals come from Linda Tillery and Emma Jean Foster on one track, and Wilson Pickett adds his illustrious lead vocals to one track additionally. The Cultural Heritage Choir also pipes in the background on the Pickett-aided tune, "Don't Ever Let Nobody Drag Your Spirit Down".
Eric takes off with his rendition of Reverend Gary Davis' spiritual "I Heard The Angels Singing", and moves into the traditional "Delia's Gone". He covers Jimi Hendrix' "Angel as beautiful duet tribute with Petersson on piano. He eludes aesthetic description on his take of Jimmy Reed's "Honest I Do" and his gospel-leaning Pop Staples tune "Hope In A Hopeless World". But don't mistake, Bibb's own original work here like, "Kokomo", "To Know You", and the title track "Painting Signs" stand as phenomenal work as well.
Very much as active, optimistic, and enlightening as his previous works, Bibb continues to exercise his rich and grand vocal character, his exemplary picking and chording, and his love of life musical profile on this effort. Eric's range and vocal intensity reaches out to grab you emotionally, while his delicate and deliberate guitar action equally soothes and excites. In the finest tradition of the musical troubadour, Eric Bibb entertains first, and plays blues second. His alliance to the past is filtered through his own time, place, and feeling so that you as the audience can feel the same experience. This is moving music, and another extra fine biscuit without any pretense or profundity.
EarthBeat Records; P.O. Box 1460; Redway, CA 95560-1460: or, www.earthbeatrecords.com,
This review is copyright © 2001 by Mark A. Cole, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission. For permission to use this review please send an E-mail to Ray Stiles.