Otis Gibbs: Joe Hill's Ashes

~ Tuesday, 4 May 2010
Gibbs music follows a strong American tradition. A tradition of story telling that the likes of Woody Guthrie inspired a generation of songwriters with. Gibbs world is one of a gritty reality. His songs are working class anthems that pull no punches and make no excuses. This is real American folk music.

Gibb's voice is gravel laden and world weary sounding like a 40 a day Steve Earle and gives an extra depth to what are at times uninspiring songs. Gibbs is a creative soul as a visit to his website will reveal some stunning reportage photography from his travels. I like Gibbs more on paper than on record. He has a strong social conscious, has something to say and isn't afraid to fight the system. What's not to like.

Musically he sits somewhere between Tom Russell and Tom Waites while never really getting close to either in the songwriting stakes. Don't get me wrong there are some pretty amazing gems tucked away on here. The Town That Killed Kennedy is like a Hunter S Thompson short story and the music carries an atmosphere that works perfectly to create a mesmerising and evocative soundtrack. My New Mind is no less of an outstanding piece of work and for my money is the stand out track here.

For those moments of real joy there are too many songs that are just ordinary. Twelve Men In Sago and Cross Country come across like Americana by numbers. Predictable and pedestrian like.

For fans of honest Americana then it will tick most of the boxes. For those that like a bit more depth to their music then this album fails to deliver the quality that the lyrics deserve.

[][][] (3/5)