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Music Review: Eric Bibb – Deeper In The Well

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Eric Bibb AlbumEric Bibb comes from an outstanding pedigree. His father, Leon, was a part of the early 1960s folk revival movement in the United States, Paul Robeson was his godfather, and John Lewis of Modern Jazz Quartet fame was his uncle.

He was exposed to music as a child and received his first guitar at the age of seven. He is a traditional folk/blues artist who relies on an acoustic sound. During the course of his long and prolific career, he has released close to three dozen albums and received a number of blues awards.

During the past 40 years, he has recorded for a number of labels but has now signed with the Stony Plain label out of Canada, which specializes in folk, blues, and roots music. If his debut album for the label is any indication, it will be a good match.

Deeper In The Well finds Bibb continuing to explore the folk and blues heritage. As with many traditional blues artists, he is a virtuoso on the guitar, be it a six, seven, or nine-string, plus can also play a mean banjo when required. He is supported by harmonica player Grant Dermody, who plays a prominent part in his sound, upright bass/accordion player Dirk Powell, fiddler Cedric Watson, drummer Danny DeVillier, and Cajun triangle player Christine Balfa.

He is at his best on a couple of traditional folk tracks when he presents “Boll Weevil” and “Sinner Man” in all their raw starkness. He also gives a smooth and precise interpretation of Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A Changin.’”

“Bayou Belle” is a modern folk/blues song right out of the southern Delta. It has an ominous style as it spins its tale of love’s longing. Oddly, the title track is the one that moves him farthest from his roots. “Dig A Little Deeper In The Well,” written by deceased Nashville songwriter Roger Bowling, comes close to being a conventional country song, complete with fiddles, banjos, and harmony vocals.

He is also a noted songwriter. Tracks such as “In My Time,” “Music,” “Movin’ Up,” “No Further,” and “Sittin’ In A Hotel Room” all find him fusing folk and blues traditions.

Deeper In The Well is a fine addition to Eric Bibb’s large catalog of releases, as it is a modern interpretation of some old traditions. Bibb remains one of the better practitioners of his chosen style of music.

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