Eric Bibb ‘Blues People’ (DixieFrog) 4/5

eric-bibbFolk-blues singer-songwriter Eric Bibb is a consummate performer and this is perfectly exemplified on this fine all acoustic album, which is both a tribute to the ‘I have a dream’ speech made by Dr. Martin Luther King and a homage to the seminal book on the evolution of African-American music, ‘Blues People’, by Le Roi Jones (aka Amiri Baraka), with major league guests arriving in the form of Taj Mahal and the Blind Boys of Albama. The leader’s trenchant depiction of hobo life is showcased on ‘Driftin’ door to door’ with some neat slide guitar work from Bibb. Indeed Ry Cooder would not feel ill at ease on the old-time feel that permeates ‘Chocolate Man’ and the use of banjo and tuba as sound effects merely enhances the ambiance. In a more contemporary vein, ‘God’s Mojo’ is at once a catchy and haunting number with vamping on the piano to good effect while there is some welcome soul-blues on the mid-tempo outing ‘Dream Catchers’ with rhythm guitar and soulful female vocals in the background. Back to a more intimate setting, ‘Rosewood’ is reminiscent of the end of career pared down recordings of Johnny Cash and here Eric Bibb is accompanied solely by guitar and the subtle use of keyboards. In general there is an assurance about Eric Bibb’s delivery with the deliberate use of plenty of space in between the music and a relaxed and confident air that the listener will readily warm to. This is an authentic slice of retro folk-blues given just the slightest of modern twists and it works extremely well within those parameters.

Tim Stenhouse