Up On Rockfield

Vance Gilbert

Disismye Music, 2008


REVIEW BY: Duke Egbert


Sometimes I get a CD immediately. Sometimes, it takes time. Sometimes, my kids lose the CD and I find it two months later and go “Damn, I meant to review this.” Sometimes, it's longer than two months. Oops.

Fact is, several hundred years ago (okay, back in 1999) I reviewed Vance Gilbert's Shaking Off Gravity. It was a good CD, and I didn't think much more about it; I still have it, still listen to it occasionally. So when Gilbert’s publicist contacted me about his new CD, my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Up On Rockfield, I said to send it along. Therein begins the comedy of errors. First the CD disappeared. Then the case. Then both. I had malevolent gremlins infesting my home office that apparently had a deep-seated dislike for intelligent, well-crafted, catchy folk-blues. Finally, I took the damned thing to work and stuck it in the store's music system (for those who care, I work at a high-end liquor and wine store).

Then people started asking me “What is that great CD you have on?” And I realized it was, indeed, a damned fine CD. Up On Rockfield is Gilbert's tribute to artists that have been a formative influence on his songwriting and performing; each song on the CD is representative of another artist's style or sound. However, far from being derivative or boring, Gilbert treats each style with a freshness and craft that shows off his magnificent talent, as well as the talent of the artist he's paying homage to. At various times we hear Gilbert's take on Van Morrison ("Up On Rockfield"), acoustic Bruce Springsteen ("Judge's House," which gives me chills every time I hear it), Tom Waits ("Old Man's Advice"), and some even more interesting combinations. One song is described as "Lynyrd Skynyrd and Al Jarreau get snowed in at a hotel in Denver," another as "What if John Hiatt was to write a song with Louie Jordan and Prince?" -- and damned if they don't both work and if those aren't the most effective descriptions of what exactly Gilbert is doing. This is great stuff, folks; not to be missed. Gilbert manages one of the most difficult feats in music; paying tribute to something or someone he loves without shamelessly ripping them off.

Up On Rockfield is a wonderful piece of music, both on its own and as a reflection of the artists who inspired it. Vance Gilbert continues to impress me.

Rating: A

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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