Album Reviews

The Gibson Brothers

In The Ground

Artist:     The Gibson Brothers

Album:     In The Ground

Label:     Rounder

Release Date:     02/17/2017

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From their hardscrabble, gratifying dairy farm upbringing in the northernmost reaches of New York State, the Gibson Brothers know tradition. With In the Ground, they’ve perfected their brand of traditional bluegrass, played and sung with bright fire. A fire born of just plain being American-real. Heritage translates to beautiful, exciting musical events in every one of these 13 songs, on the Brothers’ (lucky?) 13th album. But luck needn’t be considered, because the Gibson’s have the goods, and the shelves full of awards for it. This time, the songs are all theirs, comprising the most “Gibson” Gibson Brothers album yet. To accentuate the feeling, they brought in acclaimed resonator guitarist Rob Ickes, one more ringer in a band already full of them. Ickes slides in like a key securing a lock. Together with banjo player Eric and guitarist Leigh, fiddler Clayton Campbell, mandolin player Jesse Brock, and bassist Mike Barber, a merry alliance ensues, getting right to the heart of the matter with “On the Highway.” Although written as rockabilly, the song here cavorts gleefully through the ‘grass. Of course, the second-to-none brother harmony singing between Eric and Leigh ultimately carries the day.

Sentiments born of family and rock-solid character, like “Remember Who You Are” (what their dad told Eric as he left for college), beam with weight, despite—in that case—a graceful melody. “Fool’s Hill” is another. That sweeping, jaunty tune speaks to a phrase the maternal side of the family used to illustrate misguided behavior, and touches on the comical fact that one of the Gibson’s uncles was once arrested for walking a horse into a bar. “Homemade Wine” illustrates with stout melody another ill-advised pastime and its hung-over consequences. In “I Found a Church Today,” the brothers Gibson sing of re-discovering something that regular baseball playing, girl-chasing kids often leave behind for a spell, but later realize the importance of. Although destined to not continue the family farm business, the Gibson’s chose the next best thing. Bluegrass music exhilarates, and the Gibson Brothers and their band tickle that fancy like no one else.

-Tom Clarke

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