First Appeared at The Music Box, January 2002, Volume 9, #1
Written by John Metzger
Were it not for Bob Dylan's Love and Theft, Eric Bibb's Painting Signs would be the best blues album released this year. The reason is simple: By folding in a delightful mix of gospel, folk, and country, Bibb allows his songs to rise above the trappings typical of the genre. And he delivers each with the sense of supreme fortitude that perfectly conveys the thoughtful introspection of his lyrics. Don't Ever Let Nobody Drag Your Spirit Down (with guest vocalist Wilson Pickett) is defiantly uplifting, and the call for peace and harmony in Got to Do Better is fitted with a sprightly melody and rapturous harmonies.
Even the cover songs on Painting Signs seem well chosen. On Delia's Gone, he writes his own chapter to Stagger Lee; A swinging, old-time, spiritual groove elevates Rev. Gary Davis' I Heard the Angels Singing; and Hope in a Hopeless World (made famous by Pops Staples) slithers with a slinky, soulful R&B groove reminiscent of Marvin Gaye.
On its surface, blues music is rather elemental, but its simplicity can be deceiving. In truth, it is the most difficult genre to tackle. After all, it's been performed by generation after generation, making it that much harder for artists to say something new. Yet, with Painting Signs, Bibb has done just that — not so much by the type of styles he folds together, but the manner in which he does it: With warmly accessible melodies that blur the lines among folk, rock, gospel, and blues, and a soulful execution that paints a mesmerizing backdrop too difficult to resist.
Of Further Interest...
Painting Signs is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2001 The Music Box