[25 January 2007]
There is an old cliché that has often been applied when assessing the potential of an individual describing them as “a diamond in the rough.” There are no rough edges on Diamond Days or Eric Bibb the blues artist behind this fabulous new CD. The man is so effortless when he plays that one has difficulty determining where the guitar stops and where Bibb begins. He reminds me of one of my favorite guitar players, Eric Clapton. In particular, “Storybook Hero” prompts images of Clapton’s Unplugged (Live) album.
“Storybook Hero” is an easygoing bayou song featuring Levi B. Saunders’ banjo backstopping Bibb’s acoustic guitar. Glen Scott’s doo-wop vocal support is as silky smooth as Bibb’s own voice. Gilles Bouvier’s French accordion creates a quaint personal ambience. Saunders and Bibby combined to write an old-fashioned song about a man confessing his love for his woman.
The earthy “Dr Shine” is a ballad that allows us to see life through the eyes of a shoeshine man. This song is about a man who shines shoes for a living but takes great pride in his work. Bibb has an astounding ability to use words to create portraits of real life scenes. He brings to life the interaction between the traveler and the shoeshine man.
Björn Gidonsson’s uneven drum beats run counter to Janne Peterson’s funky Wurlitzer chops as Bibb strums and sings the faith based “In My Father’s House”. The song is one of hope and acceptance for those who are at the end of the line.
Often it is said that an artist must experience heartache and disappointment to give his or her voice the right inflection for singing the blues. Eric Bibb blows that myth away as he tells stories with a positive spin. He has retained the simple, ballad, earthy, and acoustic elements of traditional blues but this “ain’t no man singing about how the world dun him wrong.” The bonus track, “Worried Man Blues”, most emulates that theme but the singer turns an unfortunate event into a brighter day.
The CD also has a bonus video that runs for 11:19 and offers a close up look at the life of Eric Bibb as he sits in a guitar shop trying out various six strings.
There are twelve vocal tracks on Diamond Days, and all of them are to be treasured. Sometimes producers get in the way of the artist and obscure their talent but that is not the case with this CD. Producer/engineer Glen Scott created a simple acoustic environment and allowed the artists to play through.
Honorable mentions need to go to Jim Shearer for his tuba work on “Still Live On”, Gary Compton (harmonica) on “Worried Man Blues”, and Paul Waller’s playing of the Hilo Hawaiian Lap-steel guitar on “Worried Man Blues”. Numerous other incredible musicians also appear on this project.