Eric and Leigh Gibson are at their best when writing and harmonizing about people in a state of quiet desperation and in search of some sort of emotional or spiritual reprieve. This is to say they shine brightest when writing and singing about people like themselves and ourselves: people who, from time to time, look inward and yearn for change and transcendence.
On They Called It Music, the Gibson Brothers’ dozenth or so album since 1994, their soul-searching music and heartfelt harmonies seem to be imbued with a new layer of artistry, earnestness and intensity. The press material accompanying the new album refers to the emotional “roller coaster ride” the brothers experienced while winning the IBMA’s Entertainer Of The Year award, then losing their beloved father, all within a relatively short period of time. This vivid emotion and artistry shines with particular acuity on originals like “Dusty Old World” (written by Eric), “Something Coming To Me” (which the brothers co-wrote with Shawn Camp) and the ineffably beautiful “Songbird’s Song,” which Eric composed during a bout of chronic insomnia while on a European tour.
This same wistful, melancholy and ultimately irresistible empathy also comes through on much of the outside material included in this 12-cut collection. So it is with the eerie “I Will Always Cross Your Mind” (Roy Hurd and Elizabeth Hill), “Dying For Someone To Live For” (Shawn Camp and Loretta Lynn) and “Sundown And Sorrow,” an oldie-but-goodie heartbreaker penned by J.L. Frank and Pee Wee King.
Even on light-hearted songs, like “Buy A Ring, Find A Preacher” (co-written by the Gibsons and their mandolin player Joe Walsh) and the old-time “Daddy’s Gone To Knoxville,” penned by Mark Knopfler, their harmonies are infused with these same heartfelt and unique qualities that make the Gibsons’ music so special. (Compass Records, 916 19th Ave. S., Nashville, TN 37212, www.compassrecords.com.)BA