Otis Gibbs - Joe Hill's Ashes

by Nathan Fidler Rating:10 Release Date:2010-05-24

Country music has had a reinvention of late. Younger bands are making a modern movement of their own, born out of the classics; they take the classic feelings and situations but breathes today's sentiments and modernity into the sound, whether by adding synth or relating love to a vending machine.

Otis Gibbs is not this kind of musician. His album sticks to the formula, humble picking, faint fiddles and a voice as bristly and fuzzy as his face. He is honest though. You don't dare doubt that he's travelled America when he talks about the toilets on greyhound buses or the dusty highways. After learning that he followed his uncle around the bars and secretly played in them from an early age, all of this starts to make sense. His melodies carry best in songs such as 'Where Only The Graves Are Real' and 'Something More'.

The problem lies in that it's all been done before, people have said "God damn", "God bless", "I knew a man called..." and "down in the river" There is very little lyrically new and the pace of each song ambles along with the same heartland America country pace as the last. The whole album is a wistful melancholy for something long past, America is on the move, for better or for worse, but Otis doesn't seem to want to acknowledge it. There is talent in the delicate picking and you know he feels strongly for what he sings about, it's just a shame he can't connect with this changing world.

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