Migration Blues

Eric Bibb

Stony Plain, 2017


REVIEW BY: David Bowling


Eric Bibb has recently produced a series of excellent and relevant albums, highlighted by 2014’s Blues People. He has a laidback and simple approach that often belies the messages of his music. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

His latest release, titled Migration Blues, is centered on a fusion of past and present migrants or migrations that are explored within a folk and blues format. The 15 tracks include 12 original tunes and three cover songs. Joining Bibb (vocals, acoustic guitar, and banjo) are JJ Milteau (harmonica) and Michael Jerome Browne (guitar, banjo, and mandolin).

Keying off the Southern American migration of Afro-Americans from the rural South to the industrial North due to segregation and poverty, Bibb moves his music to present-day reasons for escaping various home countries. “Refugee Moan,” “Four Years No Rain,” “We Had To Move,” and “With A Dolla In My Pocket” focus on the effects of war, prejudice, and starvation in their home countries and the hopes and realities of their new homes. Particularly chilling is “Prayin’ For Shore,” which presents the dangers at sea and of their destination as well.

The three cover songs include a laidback version of Bob Dylan’s “Masters Of War,” a hopeful interpretation of Woody Guthrie’s classic “This Land Is Your Land,” and a moving version of the spiritual “Mornin’ Train” that ends the album.

Despite the seriousness of the topics, Bibb’s voice and music make it all very listenable. Milteau’s harmonica is an important component to the sound on many of the songs, and it provides a nice counterpoint to Bibb’s guitar work.

Eric Bibb has paid homage to the American blues through his stories and music. Migration Blues is an album that deserves a listen.

Rating: B+

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