6BN-Eric Bibb

22 June 2016
Written by David McCabe

David's Quick Picks

Eric Bibb & North Country Far - Happiest Man In The World

Singer/guitarist Eric Bibb, from New York, decided to base himself out of Europe, where he found a fan base eager to embrace his roots/blues music. While living in Helsinki, Finland, he befriended brothers Janne (drums) and Olli Haavisto (Dobro, pedal steel), who then introduced him to Petri Hakala (mandolin). This Finnish trio soon took on the name the North Country Far when backing up Bibb. For this album, Bibb also added legendary British bassist Danny Thompson (Pentangle, Nick Drake, Tim Buckley), and everybody met up at a rural U.K. studio near Norfolk called the Grange for a week of recording. The result is all-acoustic mixed bag of country, blues, folk, and some high-grade picking. The band plays some playful tunes like “I'll Farm for You" and "Born to Be Your Man," but don’t be fooled by the casualness that belies their expert musicianship.
Many of Bibb's characters tend to show some tenderness, like the couples in "Creole Café" and "On the Porch" and the upbeat dreamer in "King Size Bed." Where he really excels, though, is on some of the quieter, more introspective songs like "Prison of Time" and "Wish I Could Hold You Now," two beautiful cuts that softly celebrate the richness of life. There are also a couple of fine instrumental pieces, the guitars only "1912 Skiing Disaster" and the Irish tin whistle-aided "Blueberry Boy", plus the only song not written by Bibb, “You Really Got Me” (The Kinks/Ray Davies) that round out the collection.

A solid A+ for this one from me.

Paul Reddick – Ride The One

From the introduction of this album on the Stony Plain website: Ride The One, Paul Reddick’s newest release and his first for Stony Plain Records, references the hypnotic one chord grooves explored throughout the recording.
Reddick conjures up a “beautiful blues landscape”, into which we are drawn by his songwriting and performances. Produced and recorded in Toronto by Colin Cripps, the record features a “Who's Who” of the city’s backing musicians, including Steve Marriner (from MonkeyJunk), Colin Cripps, and Greg Cockerill on guitars, Anna Ruddick on bass, and Derek Downham on drums. The first 2 songs “Shadows”, based on a Bo Diddley beat, and “Celebrate”, a blues rocker, along with the aggressive groove of “It Goes With You” show Reddick’s scowling vocals at their best. And the rhythmic “Mourning Dove”, which has a lighter, more 
country approach, somewhat like JJ Cale, the R&B “Gotta Find A ”, the blues rock “Living In Another World”, and the very accessible “Watersmooth” all help to showcase the talents here.

A flat out rocker, “Living In Another World”, uses driving bass, and 3 guitar part rhythm under distorted vocals and a harp chorus. Another rocker, “I Tried To Tell You”, has a cool twist between the pop feel of Cheap Trick and the raw edge of the Black Keys. “Love And Never Know” is a nice R&B style track ... soft and smooth. Wrapping the release is"Moon And Star", an interesting blues track with Reddick on vocal and harp. With only the most rudimentary of instrumentation, this is a very successful closer to a pretty interesting release.

Paul will be at the Tremblant Blues Festival this year, on Saturday July 16.

Sean Pinchin – Monkey Brain

Sean Pinchin has had some blues in his life, judging by the lyrics of the eight blues rocking tracks on this album.

The opening and title song “Monkey Brain”, talks about giving in to base emotions (“when life gets to me, my head starts to change – I give in to my monkey brain”). The blues rock “Can’t Stand It” has a catchy guitar riff with some nice solo work sometimes popping through during the chorus. “Charity Case”, a swamp rock tune, tells us about turning away misguided sympathy and help for problems he’d rather deal with alone, "Why do you treat me like some charity case? It's not your business if I'm sober or straight".
“Hard Luck” is an electric rock & blues piece that has Sean's searing lead guitar crescendo with a one-note squeal into its signature riff with layered gospel harmonies over deep piano. “Living In The Past” deals with, as the title implies, personal issues from the past, and eases us in with Sean's falsetto before the album's engine room Adam Warner (drums) & Mark McIntyre (bass) launch into its signature groove. We then hear Sean's guitar weave in and out and Emma-Lee's backing vocals pushing the whole thing over the top.
The album takes a turn with very well titled “Goin' Hobo”, with junk-yard percussion and tongue-in-cheek lyrics about being sick of the grind and packing it all in for the hobo life, co-written with Juno winner Steve Strongman. Who hasn’t thought about that at some point in their life?

The album closes with the duo of “Monsters”, an acoustic stomper keeping with the theme of fighting one's own demons and contains a beautiful mix of tight picking all topped off with some lovely slide, and “Get Burned”, with yet more evidence of Sean's guitar prowess, pivoting effortlessly between clean playing and ultra-dirty riff-mongering. There is also a very inventive arrangement and production on this track and it's a real stand out to finish on.

I recently commented on Facebook that I would have loved to go to Ottawa to see Sean play a show with Conor Gains. After listening to this album, I wish I had made that trip. He will be at the Tremblant Blues Festival this year, on Sunday July 10, Monday July11, and Tuesday July 12, and I am planning on seeing him there, at least once.
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