Otis Gibbs is a seasoned singer/songwriter whose music sounds as sweet
as the smell of wood smoke rising from the chimney of a cabin hidden
deep in the high forests of Appalachia. 'Souvenirs Of A Misspent Youth'
is a blissfully no-frills affair; ten compositions which bare witness to
their creator's skill in fusing both melody and lyrics into a heart-warming
whole. Each song has a story to tell, about life and love and hope and loss.
I have always loved a good story and our host is a credible and reliable narrator.
He possesses a marvelously well-worn voice; wholesome, unaffected and
blessed with a pleasing grittiness about it when he pushes the edge for
dynamic or dramatic emphasis. Stylistically we're never too far away from
bluegrass territory and Mr Gibbs is perfectly at home there with a skilled
and sympathetic instrumental ensemble who understand the meaning of
both understatement and economy. It all hangs together wonderfully well.
Opening track 'Cozmina', after a sprightly introduction veers left into
a far more melancholy landscape where death casts a long cold shadow.
'The Darker Side Of Me' has some mercurial banjo and fiddle work and
shuffles along at a tidy pace, channeling the spirit of Kenny Rogers and
the lilting, waltz-time 'Wrong Side Of Gallatin' paints a vivid warts-and-all
picture of small town America with an affectionate eye for the small details.
Quality is the key word here. Mr Gibbs is a true master of his gentle craft.
on 16 June 2015
Otis Gibbs has not written and produced one mediocre album, they are all superb. If your tastes are country, folk, gospel and a little bit of blues thrown in for good measure - look no further, Otis is your man. After seeing him live in an upstairs room in a bar in a Lancashire town I was blown away. My reason for not writing a review until now was because a certain Chuck Prophet had sown seeds of doubt in my head as to whether Otis was the genuine article in terms of his stories and life experiences. Apparently at a Chuck Prophet gig, Chuck had let rip a tirade of abuse at Otis (don't know whether Otis was playing here also) of how he was a fake in his Dickies work shirt and his stories were all made up. I didn't realise that you have to fit a certain category to wear Dickies work wear. (Does this mean Jay Farrar is a fake in his western pearl snap button shirts)! Anyway I decided to go away and educate myself in relation to Otis the singer, Otis the man and everything else. I am not going to name people I have spoken to in the UK and America who know him that would not be fair, all I can say is everything Otis has said, sung about is completely true based on his own life experiences and he is the a genuine person/singer/songwriter. So Otis will go on to produce fantastic albums, Chuck Prophet will go on to produce mediocre albums as he has done nothing of quality since Green on Red. I am so glad I found Otis Gibbs and his music, a humble and friendly guy who does carry the spirit of Woody Guthrie with him. I remember in this country a certain Billy Bragg having his critics for producing protest songs of the human spirit. In the end this is simple music which is good for the soul and I for one give a damn!