Philip Gibbs is carrying on an old tradition now almost extinct, that of the solo folkie troubador…and I do mean solo. There are not only no overdubs on this disc, but he charged into the studio and recorded all 22 cuts in a single day!, yet not a one sounds rushed in the least. Over a span of 18 years and 2,500 gigs across America, he's only rarely been accompanied on any stage, instead it's just him, his guitar, and a microphone, and Box Canyon Blues shows what people from coast to coast in 35 states have been digging on for a good long while now. The CD showcases a David Wilcox / James Taylor / Jesses Youngblood and Winchester style of doing things, and not a song but shines with propulsive energy, thoughtful melancholy, or larksome reminiscence.
He's also a graphic artist and outdoorsman, and the release's cover painting reminds me of a section not far from the gates of Canyonlands while I think the interior snapshot's somewhere in the Tetons, Philip's tent looking out upon greenery with snowpacked mountains in the near distance. Regardless, it's obvious he isn't a city slicker, and the lyrics he crafts reflect a familiarity with both domestic life and wild landscapes. That left guitar hand knows its way around the fretboard while the right's strum patterns emphasize time signatures with a Texas chug and Al Stewarty colorations.
As I mentioned, it's going on two decades now and Phil's attracted names and print venues to his side, including Grant Peeples' producer / co-conspirator Gurf Morlix, who knows the workings of studio and song well, lauding Gibbs' talents. Phil's hitting the road again for an extended tour, and I can't help but notice he's playing a lot places very close to great hiking and camping spots, so if you find yourself ambling past a woodsided music dive, a country roadside bar, or a nice pull-out or campground in the wilderness, and you hear a guy a-strummin' and a'singin' songs that pull your feet in his direction, set yourself down, listen, and share a beer. It's probably him, and you could do with an oasis away from work and the outside world for a spell.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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