[12 August 2014]
“Nice” is perhaps an overused adjective, but it’s the perfect descriptor for Ferrill Gibbs’ brand of music. The Mobile, Alabama, singer-songwriter has cobbled together a new album, Significant Trees, that floats by like the laziness of a summer cloud drifting high in the sky. It’s ... nice. At times sounding vaguely Coldplay-ish, at times sounding like something that might have been used in the film scores of works by either Wes Anderson or Zach Braff, Significant Trees is a catchy affair of pleasant-sounding songs. I listen to “You and Your Misery” and have to wonder what Stevie Nicks could do with the tune, so closely hewn to Fleetwood Mac it is. Even though this is a self-released affair, Gibbs isn’t afraid of pulling in some big guns: the disc is performed by engineers, producers and players who’ve graced the music of artists such as of Montreal, R.E.M., Sonic Youth, the Allman Brothers Band and Government Mule, among others.
However, at 12 songs long, with a few songs climbing into the five-minute range, Significant Trees suffers from a dollop of overlength. Things could have used a little snip, snip, snip and a bit of cut, cut, cut, particularly because, after a while, the songs tend to bleed together. And the imagery is a bit overused: you could almost play a drinking game every time that Gibbs mentions horses. Still, the album does boast some, erm, nice material, from the sad-sounding “The Happy Ones” to the plaintive “Faithless Me”, which sort of sounds a little bit like a slower version of “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”. While Significant Trees isn’t nearly as important as its title would leave you to believe, it’s still an enjoyable affair to some degree. With some pruning and a little streamlining of metaphors and images in the lyrics, Gibbs’ next platter could be a real winner.