Friday, January 06, 2012

Billy Gibson's Southern Livin'

This is an older review from 2007 and I did select this recording to be an outstanding blues recording of 2007. It appeared in the March-April 2007 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 291). I received my copy from wither Inside Sounds or a publicist.

Born in Mississippi where he developed his distinctive soulful singing and harp, Billy Gibson has established himself as among the strongest blues acts in the Memphis area today. Gibson has a new album on Inside Sounds, Southern Livin’, that focuses on his marvelous vocals although he does not ignore his harp. Gibson’s band includes guitarist David Bowen and bassist James Jackson, both veterans of Albert King’s band along with drummer Cedric Keel and keyboardist Charlie wood along with some taut horns on several tracks and guest appearances from guitarists Preston Shannon and Daddy Mack Orr.

Bowen’s original Fireman opens with Bowen playing some guitar evoking Albert King before Gibson’s delivery of the clever lyric. Bowen & Gibson collaborated on Mississippi, a funky celebration his roots and the state’s people with a short harp break. Preston Shannon guests on guitar on Bowen’s I’m Single, a rocking shuffle about no longer being tied up and out having fun, while Too Many Times, is a soul-blues ballad reflecting on a relation gone bad as his woman tries to take two and make three with a killer line about how hard it is to forget her for as Willie Nelson says “you’re always be on my mind.”

Gibson's Hey Hey Pretty Baby. has him telling is woman he is going to rock and sock it to his woman that she’ll know it can’t be wrong, throwing in a short, focused chromatic harp-break. One of three covers included here is a tasty reworking of Sam Myers, I Got a Thing for the Voodoo Woman. Other covers include the fine rendition Booker T & the MG's classic, Hip Hug-Her, with exceptional harp, and the closing Sex Appeal (from Willie Dixon’s Pen, on which Daddy Mack takes the guitar lead), with another nice vocal.

There is hardly anything i can fault on this impressive release. The band is tight and Bowen and Wood are as impressive on their instruments as Gibson is on harp, but the focus remains on the songs and Gibson’s authoritative and convincing vocals. Highly recommended.

Here is Billy performing at the North Atlantic Blues Festival in 2007.

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