The Gibson Brothers
on their latest release, Bona Fide; their longtime bassist, Mike Barber, keeps things rolling along by slapping the instrument just when you least expect it. But for me it's their songcraft that really sets the Gibson Brothers apart.
This band is about original songs. Leigh and Eric Gibson don't come from the bluegrass heartland, but they did grow up in a land of fading farms and vanished livelihoods: the strip of upstate New York that abuts the Quebec border. They write the same kinds of love songs, road songs, prison songs, grandfather songs, gospel songs, and raised-by-the-railroad-line songs that other bluegrass song makers do; they just write them better.
| They never miss the assonance that ties a line together: |
We smile through every mile we make, every single one:
She's the queen of style, so sweet and bold,
On the open road.
Or the new twist on a familiar phrase: "Oh, you're so pretty, but I'm just plain to see." Or the telling detail: the "old woodsmoke memories" of a relative who "helped me to laugh and helped me to live"; the disillusioned lover who heads for the city to become "just part of the crowd, a drop in a down-pouring rain"; the farmer who, as his land is being auctioned, is "shaking real hard, but not making a sound."