Last month I started a review of the great new album “Help My Brother” from The Gibson Brothers. This band is as good as it gets in bluegrass. In fact when it comes to making music that can be appreciated, understood and enjoyed these guys cross the boundaries of genre. The original review was a song by song kind of thing. But today I was listening once again to the album and I decided that I was taking the wrong approach. Besides, Eric Gibson can do a much better job on the track by track insights.
So I thought about this album. Then I thought about how this album fits into the body of work that the brothers have produced and recorded. I thought about how their work fits into the greater body of bluegrass, country music and so called Americana music. That’s a lot of thinking, I know, but I’ve drawn some impressions now that I feel, in my humble poetic heart, should be shared.
One of the finest gifts we have received from the Creator, as humans, is the ability to make music. And the extra blessing that we’ve gotten is the fine folks that make music really, really well. There are all kinds of musicians making all kinds of music. Our tastes are not all the same but most people, when they hear a talented musician doing his or her job in a special way, react very positively. If I hear a fine classical orchestra I feel the power of that art. If I hear an excellent steel drum band the result can be the same. And so it goes. When I hear the new album from The Gibson Brothers I know I’m hearing a real gift, one that is part of the original from the Big Giver.
In my life I’ve dabbled in music. On a couple of occasions I was able to play well enough with some other musicians so that I felt the special joy that comes from the experience. That joy, which is another part of the gift of music, shines like a sunny day in July when Eric and Leigh Gibson and their band start playing. And that joy grabs the hearts of listeners and, for a little while, brings them to a better place. It is no small thing.
The Gibson Brothers know the important stuff, the stuff that needs to be in the music we want to hear. They know we want songs like “Safe Passage”, “Dixie”, “Arleigh”, “Iron and Diamonds” and others that hold the stories of our heritage and the paths we have followed, personally and as a people. They know we need songs of love and emotion like “Talk to Me”, “Just Lovin’ You”, “Forever Never Ends” and so many more that express the universal passions, struggles and joys that most of us share on our journeys. And those inspirational songs that the band does so well “He Can Be Found”, “Singin’ As We Rise”, “The Lighthouse” and dozens of others bring us to a place where we can be reminded of the many important things necessary to our real purpose here in this world. And they also know how to bring fun into every kind of song they perform. It is a joyful noise for sure.
Now I’ve said my piece. “Help My Brother” is a special recording. It has wisdom and joy. It has emotion and humor. It has heritage and spirituality. But mostly it is just excellent music from some wonderful, immensely talented folks; Eric and Leigh Gibson, Mike Barber, Clayton Campbell and Joe Walsh. And just for good measure they’ve brought along Ricky Skaggs, Claire Lynch, Alison Brown and Mike Witcher to add to the joy. Buy it. You’ll be awful glad you did.