Music
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Otis Gibbs

Grandpa Walked a Picketline

(Wanamaker Recording Company; US: 20 Jan 2009; UK: 13 Oct 2008)

Unlike a hipster nation marked by trucker hats and weird-beards, Otis Gibbs has walked the walk after deciding to “drop out” at an early age and pursue only things that would fulfill him on an intellectual and creative level. It sounds romantic, but it’s also been hard, as Gibbs himself admits on “Beto Junction” when he sings that he’s “making far too little progress for a man that lives like this.”


It’s not really a moment of self-pity, though, as Gibbs merely presents it as a lonely cost of following his path. It’s a theme that’s informed Gibbs’ songs throughout his career, and it’s hard to find a better example than “Everyday People”, which not only contributes the title of Grandpa Walked a Picketline, but which also continues Gibbs’ chronicling of working-man concerns. Armed with a booming, grainy voice and lightly countrified arrangements, Gibbs has always been just as interested in singing songs of protest as he is in chronicling the loneliness of the road, but Grandpa Walked a Picketline might be one of his best balancing acts yet. On Grandpa, he’s helped out not only by Chris Stamey’s light-touch production, but also by the talents of Tim Easton, Don Dixon, Will Rigby, and Al Perkins.  They provide backing that complements Gibbs’ heartworn style well, rather than overwhelming it.

Rating:

Andrew Gilstrap is a freelance writer living in South Carolina, where he's able to endure the few weeks each year that it's actually freezing (swearing a vow that if he ever moves, it'll be even farther south). Aging into a fine curmudgeon whose idea of heaven is 40 tree-covered acres away from the world, he increasingly wishes he were part of a pair of twins, just so he could try being the kinda evil one on for size. Musically, he's always scouring records for that one moment that makes him feel like he's never heard music before, but he long ago realized he needs to keep his copies of John Prine, Crowded House, the Replacements, Kate Bush, and Tom Waits within easy reach.


Media
Otis Gibbs - Preacher Steve (Live at Twangest 2008)
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