Eric Bibb has been a popular cat here at FAME, reviewed enthusiastically by three of the site's critics (Pam Dow, Tampa Blue, and me), so if you want to right away read about the guy and his music, jump to here, here, here, and here 'cause I just gotta start this review by extolling the virtues of Blues People's exquisite engineering and atmospherics. I of course expected all the standard Bibb excellences, but the technical aspects this time knocked me out more than ever, right from the very first track. There's a producer, an exec producer, and no less than 17 engineers, yet the entire repertoire hangs together like Daniel Lanois was in charge and had stabled an intimate compact of the best Canada and the U.S. could offer…except these are all Londoners, Parisians, and Swedes (Bibb makes his home in Europe).
The first track, Silver Spoon guests Popa Chubby and commences with Bibb in a balladic bayou lament under which a mysteriously quasi-psychedelic environment seeds and slowly grows, shifting the foreground while complementing it. God's Mojo is very much in the tradition of Marvin Gaye at his prime (Trouble Man, What's Going On, etc.) while Dream Catchers is a form of laidback funky, spunkier, while gospel-esque. Nonetheless, the atmospherics in all three, plus every other cut, are lush and enveloping, but also subtle and oft understated. It's not at all like you're in the studio with the singer, or even that you might be at a concert, front row, but rather as if you were wandering through a movie marveling at differing boroughs all unified by a common vibe. I don't know how it all came together so damned well, but, as an exemplary piece of the recording arts and as music qua music, Blues People is a standout and the ne plus ultra in Bibb's evolving work on several levels.
The guy possesses one of the business' mellowest voices, never strident, always composed and sincere but hip and knowing, impassioned but with the serenity of absolute confidence in the eventual reconciliation of the 'races' (and there's only one race, ya'll: the human race, just ask Project Genome and then think about what it means) and some hopefully not distant day when man ceases to cause himself all his far too many woes. No matter where you go in this CD, you want to sit down and listen, ponder the lyrical messages, luxuriate in the golden tones, bask in the smooth warm ambiences. Frankly, the CD stands with the best of Kenny Rankin, Joni Mitchell, Taj Mahal (who again appears here), Judy Collins, Nick Drake, and, of course, as noted, Marvin Gaye at his best. It's like Eric took that unique mode a step further by first strolling it down a country lane. Blues People should be the new textbook from which others in similar styles now draw their inspirations. And if that weren't enough, the packaging's righteous too.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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