Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Deeper in the Well reviewed by David Stine

Deeper in the Well
Eric Bibb
Stony Plain Records
13 tracks/50:07 min.

Eric Bibb is not so much a bluesman as he is an American songster. His latest outing took him to Louisiana and this CD is steeped in a lazy, willow-in-the-water feel. Aiding Bibb are Cedric Watson on fiddle; Christine Balfa on Cajun triangle; Dirk Powell on banjo, fiddle, mandolin, accordion, and bass; and Danny DeVillier on percussion.

Bibb’s “Bayou Belle” with its fiddle and syncopated rhythm gets us in the mood for some dancing. Nothing complicated here in this tribute to a Southern Belle. Harrison Kennedy’s “Could Be You Could Be Me’ is more traditional blues with the topical theme of homelessness. One day it COULD be me or you, indeed. The mood takes a turn a little with the spiritual-meets-Cajun-beat “Dig A Little Deeper In The Well.” This song will have you singing a long – I guarantee it. “Money In Your Pocket” is another upbeat song, but is it tongue in cheek? The mysterious reversal of fortune, remains, alas, unsolved. The traditional “Boll Weevil” get a polishing through Bibb’s metal-bodied guitar and the harmonica from Grant Dermody. Maybe it’s the metal guitar, but there are shades of Son House in Bibb’s singing here. “Sinner Man,” too is treated to a loose Cajun intro including asides before it finally catches with its rhythmic bass/guitar/harmonica lines. This is a hypnotic piece and maybe my favorite on the disc. Well done. “In My Time” again returns to more tradition acoustic blues. Here too, we return to the theme of being on the top and the bottom of life. Simply called “Music,” cut eight pretty much capsulizes Eric Bibb’s approach to things. Call it what you like, he calls it all music. Interesting, them that he treats this as a fiddle tune. “If I feel it – that’s good enough for me” kind of says it all. “Moving Up” is another toe tapper with a political twist. “No Further” is a warning to a young lady about to go down the wrong road (drugs). Taj Mahal’s “Every Wind In The River,” is a nice choice for cut eleven. Thematically and arrangement-wise this cut appear where it should in the storyline of Deeper In The Well. These are not just a bunch of songs thrown on a CD. Bibb took his time in placing each track to help convey the feel and changing moods of this disc. “Sitting In A Hotel Room” seems to have just come alive in Bibb’s hotel room probably in one sitting. The last line: “Lord, I’m happy to be in this moment, being alive” says it all. The inclusion of the final cut, Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A Changin’” brings in the themes of water, change, forward movement and the need for action. At first I thought this cut didn’t belong, but upon revisiting the disc it seems a perfect conclusion. Done slower that other versions, the low-key banjo and weary vocals create a near perfect disc from Bibb. Maybe not a feel good disc, but an important disc in Bibb’s Americana.

Fans of Bibb’s take on the blues should buy this disc as well as those who like acoustic, Southern flavored, old-timey and Americana. This is a very pleasing, and thoughtful disc.

Reviewed by David Stine

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