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The Southern Draw

There is no doubt in my mind that we are in a Golden Age of Music. Everywhere I turn I hear it, from the newly found Fillagar to the outstanding Jesse D & Jacquie B to those a bit more known--- like Paul Curreri and Devon Sproule. Well, lookie there. I cheated. I couldn't very well start this piece talking about Curreri, who produced and played on The Southern Draw, could I? That would detract from , the artist whose album I am reviewing. Well, I have to tell you, after listening to The Southern Draw numerous times, I could plaster Curreri's name all over this piece and it would do no harm. Paul Curreri did produce this, but it is all Drew Gibson, front to back.

Who is Drew Gibson? Well, he's not Paul Curreri, though he definitely leans that way. He is not Josh Ritter, whose sound approaches Gibson's here and there. He is not a lot of people, but he is, for certain, through-and-through Drew Gibson. A folk artist who steps beyond folk. A musician who wraps his music around his roots and creates something new. A vocalist who breathes life into whatever he sings. A musician who can sound a bit like so many others and yet be totally himself.

Allow me to confuse you. As much as Gibson is not Curreri or Ritter or Bruce Springsteen or Ash Ganley, he is a little bit every one of them. They are all good writers and good musicians and good vocalists. They all have created their own little worlds, musically. And their music, on the whole, is a step beyond the norm. So is Gibson's. Sure, he channels a bit of Springsteen (his softer side) on Love You No More and Curreri on I Know I Miss You More. On Sunday has that familiar Ritter sound and there is an unmistakable feel of all three on The Southern Draw. Yet he does not really sound like any one of them.

See, Drew Gibson does indeed have his own sound and own feel. I am always shocked when an artist sounds like others and maybe even draws from them. Some critics hate it, but they are the ones always on the lookout for the true original. I find it funny that in this roots-driven world of music that critics are so leery of roots unless they emanate from the deep past. To them I say roots is roots. Whether you are aware as a musician or not. Whether you have heard the musicians you will be compared with or not.

Know what? Let me take that “roots is roots” comment a bit further and use a line I use all too often. Good music is good music. And Gibson has come up with some of the best I've heard this year. It is mostly acoustic, but when he rocks (as he does on I Know I Miss You More), he rocks. It is acoustic but it is driven and dark. When he has the blues, he is down (Knoxville, on which he uses tremolo guitar to great effect). And when he cries, it is a lonesome cry (When It's Over).

All in all, The Southern Draw is the kind of album large numbers of people would love if only they could find it. Large numbers.

You know what freaks me out about it, though? Paul Curreri is a monster guitarist (just listen to any one of his many excellent albums to find out) and yet Gibson plays the vast majority of guitar here. Credit Curreri for holding back and Gibson for having the chops. And he really does. Have the chops, I mean.

This is a solid album, my friends. Really, really solid. Gibson has another album available from 2007, according to his one-sheet--- Letterbox. I'm scoping that out next. Check out The Southern Draw. If you do, I'll probably be seeing you somewhere around Letterbox, or even the next Drew Gibson offering. He's made my list of names to follow. And then some.

Frank O. Gutch Jr.

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