Scott Gibson – Make Ready
On this smartly diverse debut, Austin’s Scott Gibson frequently brings to mind the work of some of his Texas singer-songwriter elders. The album-opening “I Believe” recalls Joe Ely at his punchiest, while “Sunday Social” could be Guy Clark at his breeziest. And it wouldn’t be a stretch to mistake “The Hardest Part Of Hurtin’ (Is The Hope)” as a stray from the catalogue of the grand elder, Willie Nelson.
If you’re walking in the footsteps of giants, you better have some big-shoe songs. Gibson, a bassist by trade and a ten-year veteran of the Austin club scene, shows up packing size 16s. “Robin-On-Hudson” sports enough of a jangly jolt and more than enough hooks to suggest what power-pop might sound like chicken-fried, while “Kripalu” is a swell chunk of revival-tent roots-rock with a Cajun bounce.
But Gibson — who’s joined on Make Ready by Robbie Gjersoe, Rafael Gayol, Chris Gage, Mac McNabb, and other names familiar to liner-notes students — is at the top of his game on a pair of ballads. “Put Away The Blues” has a perfect scene-setting opening couplet — “In the aftermath of a sonic boom/I hear Etta James in the other room,” while the album’s emotional peak is the semi-snarling centerpiece line of “Ballad Of The Balladeer (Saturday Night)”: “Hold a goddamn concert just to put him in his grave.” The vivid writing on the former will make you imagine that you’re hearing Etta James’ “All I Could Do Was Cry” slipping out the bottom of a door locked in anger, while the latter will have you thinking about Blaze Foley or your own doomed, local-hero troubadour.