Otis Gibbs 'Harder Than Hammered Hell' Wanamaker

Having a voice that has been given its hard edges by life's experiences makes Otis Gibbs a purveyor of something honest and tough. Gibbs produced this album which was engineered by Thomm Jutz who also plays guitar and adds vocals as does Gibbs' partner (and artist in her own right) Amy Lashley. They're joined by Paul Griffith on drums and Mark Fain on bass. This unit adds much to the songs and give them some muscle and mobility. Gibbs' song deal with life's drifters, outsiders, underdogs and big fish. The latter is the subject of the light-hearted tall tale of a Flathead Catfish. Gibbs wrote all the songs here but co-wrote Big Whiskers with Adam Carroll. Don't Worry Kid sympathizes with those growing up in a society who's misplaced values don't really deal with those who feel out of step with its morality. Christ Number Three has a Springsteen/ Mellencamp feel of understanding the street. The Land Of Maybe, from which the title comes tells of the difficulties of walkin' the line, of dealing with what comes at you with as much fortitude and dignity as one can with giving in to the often relentless pressure of living close to the bread line. Detroit Steel is a song that would fit Bob Seeger and shows that though Otis Gibbs is perceived as a folk singer this album rocks it roots. Gibbs is a man who continues the tradition of the concerned troubadour with a grace and grit that makes his music welcome on many levels.

Otis Gibbs 'Joe Hill's Ashes' Wanamaker

The latest album from Gibbs continues to consider the plight of the forgotten, often marginalized people who exist on the fringes. The song Where Only The Graves Are Real sums up much of his feelings about the nature of true friendship. This album co-produced by Gibbs and guitarist Thomm Jutz is a progression from his previous album in terms of sound, because of a tight band that consists of Jutz, Gibbs and Deanie Richardson on fiddle, Mark Fain on upright bass and Nanci Griffith's drummer Pat McInerney on drums. Gibbs' girlfriend Amy Lashley provides some additional vocals all of which makes this a cohesive blend of voice, music and song. The folk-styled songs leave you in no doubt as to where Gibbs loyalties lie and that's no bad thing in these days of artists watching their words in case they might offend someone who has some control of their career. Gibbs sings honest and true and his vision of the world around him is one that will be shared by many. His voice is full of empathy and grit that is both world weary and wide awake to life's ups and downs. Otis Gibbs has made a strong album that continues the troubadour tradition, the art of the protest songs and manages to infuse a real sense of optimism when observing the oppression that a corporate culture manages to consume us with. This is punk-folk that will find favour with roots fans as much as with those attuned to Billy Bragg's equally observed take on life, love and loss. www.otisgibbs.com