Eric Bibb

Dear America

When labeled a “bluesman,” Eric Bibb is a square peg in a round hole. A New York native who’s lived in Sweden for decades, Bibb knows country blues inside out, but he’s also well-versed in folk and Black religious music. Bibb, the son of folksinger-activist-actor Leon Bibb and nephew of MJQ pianist John Lewis, has staked his place in the vast world of roots music.

Expressing truth and social justice comes naturally to Bibb; his genteel voice throughout Dear America reveals a moral scrutiny that is instructive. “Born Of A Woman” finds him empathetic to mistreated women; his polite urgency contrasts with the take-no-crap fire of London-based gospel singer Shaneeka Simon. For “Emmett’s Ghost,” Bibb reflects on the lasting horror of the 1950s lynching of Emmett Till; Ron Carter’s string bass deepens the melancholic mood.

In addition to Simon and Carter, other guests making satisfying contributions are Mississippi-raised vocalist Lisa Miles (“One-Ness Of Love”), deft blues guitarist Eric Gales from Memphis (“Whole World’s Got The Blues”) and church steel guitar specialist Chuck Campbell (“Different Picture”). Particularly important to the success of the album is Glen Scott, an English colleague of Bibb’s the past 15 years with dexterity as a multi-instrumentalist, singer and a producer.

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