Singer/songwriter Eric Bibb provides us with an excellent collection of songs on his new CD, Diamond Days. Although one can only draw instant references to better known artists Taj Mahall and Keb Mo, Eric has had a career that has spanned three decades and several countries. Digging deeper you find the Greenwich Village folk references where he grew up as son of theatre actor and television personality Leon Bibb, nephew of jazzman John Lewis and godchild of actor/activist Paul Robeson. A showbiz kid who traveled to Europe at the young age of 19, Eric was a rolling stone whose world travels are emphasized in this very fine release.
The album emphasizes acoustic guitar but there are some embellishments that go beyond the folk and country blues undertones. Songs like “Tall Cotton” and “Dr. Shine” emphasize the former, “Diamond Days” and “Shine On” emphasize the latter and leave the blues for well-crafted pop songs. Arrangements are sophisticated, but not contrived, like the ballad “So Glad”, and the acoustic-rich “Heading Home” that features some fine, sparse European-styled harmonica.
The songwriting is strong both musically and lyrically. The themes of acceptance or lack thereof permeate many of the songs that could be a result of Eric’s travels and the loneliness and prejudice than can greet one on the road. It is the blues after all, and everyone song and situation can’t be uplifting. This is probably personified most in the live track “In My Father’s House” that has some unique energy reminiscent of Stevie Wonder. “Forgiveness is Gold” is a lovely, lonely song that begs us to forgive and keep the peace that’s a very theological stance on seeking love and abandoning anger. Eric’s tribute to the great southern bluesman of the past century, “Still Livin’ On”, will make many smile with its uplifting reverence.
Produced and musically supported by Glenn Scott, the musical cast also includes Jenny Bonham on harmonica throughout the tracks. Scott provides vocals, keyboards, percussion and drums on several tracks. The album was recorded and produced in the UK. The CD also includes a video featuring Eric and the packaging is substantive including lyrics for the songs.
The more I listen to this CD, the more I find I like about it. That’s a testament to the strength of the performances, songwriting and arrangements. Even Eric’s take on Dylan’s “Buckets of Rain” moves you right along. This man is extraordinarily talented and this release crosses Eric over to a higher plain as a performer and songwriter.
About the author: Dave Glynn, frontman for the Empty Can Band found at www.EmptyCanBand.com, regularly writes reviews for BadDogBlues.com and MNBlues.com.