Glenn Gibson – When Times Are Hard

Bluegrass Unlimited - Glen Gibson - When Times Are HardGLENN GIBSON

Glenn Gibson is a resonator guitarist who has put in side man and studio time with Charlie Sizemore, Marty Raybon, Karl Shiflett, and Dale Ann Bradley.
With this recording, he steps out from that role and assumes that of songwriter and lead vocalist. All of the songs here are his own, but the instrumental ballad “Barbara Allen.” You wouldn’t think there was much that would bring interest to that old chestnut, but Gibson manages to do so by slowing the melody to a crawl over archaic drones of fiddle and bass and just letting it drift, hauntingly so. About halfway through, a deep, slightly rattling drum breaks in, at first spare, then in rapping bursts, adding a celtic touch to a fine arrangement.

Of the remaining tracks, four are instrumentals and eight are vocals. Most of the better songs come in the first half or so, though the recording does end well on the forceful, traditionally-based instrumental “Cataline Breakdown.” That tune acts as a good bookend to the shimmering instrumental opener, “On Kerrick Lane,” also traditionally-based, but tempered by some contemporary touches and made noteworthy by the three distinctly different solos Gibson takes. That gives way to the two best vocals on “Cry Baby” and “In The Name Of Love.” The first is contemporary, slow and lilting, the second medium-tempo, country bounce and lilting. Both are well-suited to Gibson’s soft baritone vocals. Both also use percussion to nice effect. Also of note are “All Hallow’s Eve,” and a somewhat funky instrumental “Strut Don’t Walk.” “Before You Know It,” the most traditional bluegrass cut here, is a good tune, but needs a stronger voice than Gibson brings to it.

All told, this is a well-played and sung debut with several high spots balance by some average material. (Glenn Gibson, 5412 Catalina Ave., Louisville KY 40272, BW

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