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Diamond Days

Eric Bibb

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Album Review

Calm, wise, hushed, and elegant, Diamond Days is in many ways the perfect Eric Bibb album. It features his fine acoustic guitar playing and his soothing, nuanced singing, and it shows an increasingly improving songwriter as well, and the whole affair is all wrapped up with a patient, quietly joyous, and ultimately positive vibe. Bibb's version of the blues has always been like that, patient and positive, and it serves as a reminder that the blues isn't necessarily always about despair, darkness, and ominous guitar riffs but is also built on the concept of survival and moving forward, on the idea of getting through tough times and reaching brighter days. In Bibb's hands the blues becomes sustaining, moving closer to the spiritual uplift of gospel, and the often shaky division between Saturday night blues and Sunday morning praise drops away here. Bibb isn't haunted by personal demons as much as he is by cultural ones. He doesn't have a hellhound on his trail, and he isn't about to go down to the crossroads and make deals with the Devil. Bibb's 21st century version of the folk-blues isn't about that kind of stuff. It's about healing. Song after song here reflects that. The opener, "Tall Cotton," is simply beautiful, and full of hope. The title tune, "Diamond Days," brims with calm wisdom and gentle assurance, and "In My Father's House" gives off the same glow, buoyed by its funky, rhythmic punch. "Still Livin' On" is Bibb's own personal survey of the blues, with verses celebrating Mississippi John Hurt, Libba Cotten, Son House, Pops Staples, and, amazingly, blues anthologist and writer Sam Charters and his wife, Ann Charters. The song comes complete with a delightful tuba break by Jim Shearer before giving way to the bonus track, a stately version of "Worried Man Blues" that glides along on Levi B. Saunders' banjo playing. A cover of Bob Dylan's "Buckets of Rain" is surprisingly underwhelming, though, and fails to find any new corners in the song. An additional enhanced video track features Bibb visiting a guitar shop in Paris, and he is seen playing, singing, and talking about his music. Taken as a whole, Diamond Days doesn't break any new ground, but that isn't really a bad thing, since Bibb's voice of temperate reason and unyielding hope in the dawning of better days is a stance that is welcome in any era. No hellhounds here.

Biography

Born: 16 August 1951 in New York, NY

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Like Josh White, Jr. — son of folk singer Josh White — singer, songwriter, and guitarist Eric Bibb was raised in the folk tradition, the son of folk singer Leon Bibb. Bibb's uncle was the world-famous jazz pianist and composer John Lewis, part of the Modern Jazz Quartet. Bibb was raised in a music-filled household, and family friends in the '50s and '60s included Pete Seeger, Odetta, Bob Dylan, and the late Paul Robeson, who was named Eric's godfather. Bibb got his first steel guitar...
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Diamond Days, Eric Bibb
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