Mixing country music with other genres is a risky business and many in Nashville still look askance at that wicked concept constructed through the devils work - namely country rock. Imagine then mixing country with British Dub step music or spliced with electronica? It sounds plain daft but in the hands of the tall and imposing Daughn Gibson a native of the state of Pennsylvania it is a rather dubious cocktail which brings forth a nice taste on the palate. Gibson was a former drummer in the stoner metal band Pearls & Brass for a number of years and prior to that a box packer, trucker, bookseller and no doubt on the 7th day he rested. "Me Moan' follows his 2012 debut "All Hell" which this reviewer has not heard but my well seek out on the solid evidence contained here.
Gibson's voice is also a central factor. The charitable will detect echoes of the great Scott Walker or Nick Cave, the less charitable will point to the resemblance to the deep tones of the lead singer with the Crash Test dummies or even an Elvis impersonator. Let us extend the milk of human kindness/reason and argue that Scott Walker is the template here. This is reinforced by the general excellence of the songwriting. Thus this album comprises great songs like the rolling pounding piano driven closer "Into the sea" where Gibson's voice is at its very best. Even more radical within the somewhat narrow confines of country is "Phantom Riser" which does a decent impression of Depeche Mode. The deconstruction of a genre continues on "We wont climb" which is almost a slow dance track and yet it still works proving pedal Steel and pulse drums as unlikely bedfellows. Despite the swirling backdrop a more straight forward country tack is "Kissing on the blacktop" where Gibson's baritone is an the forefront pushing the song forward. Mid track "The Pisgee Nest" is much heavier affair and sounds more like the gothic country that the Handsome Family specialises in. The penultimate track "All my days off" is the one that constantly draws the needle to the play button for this reviewer. It is a soft aching ballad full of regret and angst but underpinned by a lovely melody. As for the the pedal steel backdrop its almost to heartbreaking to describe.
Not surprisingly not all of this works and some songs like the "Right Signs" sounds like Yeasayer with a deep voice. Equally some parts of this album are easier to admire than love. But full marks to Daughn Gibson for the sheer gall of his experimentation/ambition. All music fans will now wait with baited breath for his future musical output with the hope of a forthcoming country and death metal mix!
There is something about a deep voiced American male singers that just brings out equal parts melancholia, bitterness and regret. Its this that makes Daughn Gibson's second album very much a dark affair in terms of mood and lyric. Its been described as electronic country by some critics and if that sounds an odd mixture I can assure you that it works. Often with samples supporting the deepest of voices (think Crash Test Dummies Brad Roberts) there isn't much here that's going to you dancing or lift your mood. But this ex-truckers tales of Americana are fascinating and attention grabbing.
Phantom Rider sounds more electronic that country. It reminds me of Washed Out's album last year for some reason. Kissing on the Blacktop is a really swaggering number with its roots in rock and country. You Don't Fade is eerily like something off Robbie Robertson's first solo effort. In fact that mood is probably what this album reminds me of.
Me Moan is a grower of an album. It has enough highlights to keep you coming back but doesn't quite hold together as an album of the year contender. That said its original and moody and shows great promise.