- Troubadour Live review from The Green Man
Eric Bibb: Troubadour Live!
BY DAVID KIDNEY, ON JUNE 2ND, 2011
Eric Bibb has not achieved the level of recognition he deserves. When I saw him perform live at a small theatre in Southern Ontario I was awestruck by his gentle persona, his mastery of the acoustic guitar and the warmth with which he invited the audience into his world. I said to him after the show, “Eric, thank you! I’ve been trying for thirty years to capture the essence of Mississippi John Hurt’s picking!” He looked at me and nodded, “Haven’t we all?” he replied.
This new CD features a live recording with Bibb on acoustic guitar and vocals, and electric guitarist Staffan Astner for support. That’s not to say the music rocks out, but it does take on a fuller sound with Astner’s sympathetic guitar-playing.
The show begins with a solo rendition of Guy Clark’s classic tune “The Cape”. Then Bibb introduces Staffan Astner and growls through “New Home”. “Troubadour” calms things down again, as Bibb describes his (and co-writer Ruthie Foster’s) career as traveling musicians. Astner bends notes and plays a little popping solo on his Telecaster. Very nice.
After a couple more like this, “Shavin’ Talk,” and “Walkin’ Blues Again,” we come to Bibb’s tribute to BB King “Tell Riley”. After a false start, the tune gathers momentum leading up to Astner’s BB-inspired picking. Next Bibb welcomes the gospel trio Psalm4 for a handful of tracks. Glen Scott (vocal, piano, percussion) and singers Andre DeLange and Paris Renita really flesh thing out. They join in one at a time, building the dynamic as they appear. Scoot adds some subtle piano to “Connected,” DeLange adds a Zulu vocal at the end of the track. Bibb says, “something really came together there. The song seemed to be a really good canvas for something special and spontaneous to happen, and we actually lived the theme of the song. We really connected.” Paris Renita joins her colleagues for “New World Comin’ Through,” and Astner adds slide guitar. Two more tracks conclude the live portion of the disc but Telarc has added two bonus songs recorded in the studio.
“Put Your Love First” is a duet with Troy Cassar-Daley another gentle song about love and life, and the connections we have with each other. The album concludes with a reggae song “If You were Not My Woman” which includes Bibb, Astner, Scott and adds strings (arranged by Erik Arvinder). If there seems to be a surplus of Scandinavian names involved with this project it’s because Eric Bibb has lived in Sweden since the ’70s.
He tours regularly, and has released so many beautiful albums in the past few years it’s surprising to me that he is not better known. Want some quiet, bluesy, guitar-based music well sung and wonderfully produced? Catch Eric Bibb, the Troubadour Live, in concert or on this CD.