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Eric Bibb Deeper in the Well Review

Album. Released 2012.  

BBC Review

Deceptively powerful stuff from the well-travelled bluesman.

Sid Smith 2012

Eric Bibb is undoubtedly one of the busiest musicians on the scene, but as Sittin’ in a Hotel Room makes abundantly clear, you’ll hear no complaints from him about an itinerant life on the road. Whilst some road songs describe the collateral damage and ennui resulting from such occupational transience, Bibb celebrates a beatific moment wherein the singer and guitarist can’t believe how lucky he is. Yes, you read right: a bluesman woke up this morning and was happy.

With a discography stretching back to the early 1970s, Bibb brings a wealth of telling experience to bear when he performs a song. With a voice that’s rich and languid, he’s a seasoned pro who understands that you don’t have to resort to demonstrative wailing or tired cliché in order to make a point stick or resonate. Although keeping things simple has been very much his main way of doing business for some time, there’s no shortage of elegant technique in his work. In the end the success of Deeper in the Well is all down to his command of intricate details.

Always understated, on this album he allows a subtle Creole flavour to permeate much of the material through some wonderfully yearning fiddle from Cedric Watson. Along with several other guests – including fiddle/banjo player Dirk Powell, with whom Bibb collaborated with on the Transatlantic Sessions – we are privileged to witness an exquisite masterclass in how to do a lot while appearing to do very little.

The slo-mo rendition of Dylan’s The Times They Are a-Changin’ conjures a commentary on present-day financial uncertainty that’s frighteningly prescient. Bibb doesn’t bang the table but reproachfully points to the warning signs littered in absurd bonuses and ever-yawning cultural divides. Similarly, Harrison Kennedy’s Could Be You, Could Be Me offers a quiet yet intense indictment of a system that demands the weak go to the wall so that the strong can have it all. It’s deceptively powerful stuff.

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