Phil Gibbs is a true blue, dyed-in-the-wool, 100% folker and Austin native with ancestral lineage roots back to the mid-1800s in Texas politics. Thus, for several cuts here, he's traced history and landed upon a number of events that at first seemed to be the light of the sparkling future—the exploitation of oil, for one—but have since fallen well short of promises. Playing guitar and singing amid a backing band that very nicely complements his back-of-the-bar, front-porch-stoop, neighborhood-gathering personality, Gibbs is a son of the soil who holds no pretensions and, in doing so, holds more than a little in common with Guthrie and Seeger.
The band frequently plays with a swingin' little shuffle step, and the disc is recorded in such a way that a rustic atmosphere is well maintained throughout, nothing studio gimmicked, no aphex overkill, or any of that, just honest straightforward folk music sometimes entirely bereft of rock and other times smoking with Neil Young flavored lead lines (Sitting in an Alley). Several cuts hark back to the days when Country Joe was with the Fish and Jesse Colin Young and the Youngbloods were getting ready to create their masterpiece (Elephant Mountain), In the Middle of the Evening perhaps the most period-soaked.
Gibbs' acumen and dusty authenticity have attracted many ears in the Western states, and he's currently embarked on a rather extensive 4-month tour that will end up skipping across the Mississippi for a few gigs in West Virginia, Tennessee, and New York. He shoulda oughtta hit the Carolinas, Alabama and points between, 'cause folks there love this sound, a working man's protest and fence-riding spirit mixed with bar hops and evening star laments. I Didn't Notice, in fact, has such a naked innocence wrapped around regret that you can't decide whether to be haunted or choked up, just Gibbs and a finger-picked guitar in an empty hall with a muted spotlight, reminiscing.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2011, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
Website design by David N. Pyles