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Diamond Days

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Audio CD, January 23, 2007
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Time and again over the past three decades and beyond, Bibb has demonstrated his ability to not only capture those singular moments when the spiritual and the everyday come together, but also extract the priceless nuggets of truth and wisdom that emerge from those moments. Diamond Days is filled with just such gems.

The twelve-song set leads off with "Tall Cotton," a track whose title was inspired by a guitar maker friend in Canada, says Bibb. "As I was walking out the door of her studio, she said, `Man, you're walking in tall cotton,'" he recalls. "I said, `What?' She said, `My mother used to tell me that. It means you're doing fine. You're on top of your game.' So the expression eventually turned into a song." The track features Congolese guitarist Kahanga "Master Vumbi" Dekula, who plays in a distinctly African style. "For me," says Bibb, "to talk about tall cotton, which is a very southern American expression, and to connect it to African culture is musically, historically and personally very resonant."

Further in, "Story Book Hero" is a tongue-in-cheek tune reminiscent of the romantic ballads of the 1930s, when male singers would brag to the ladies about their masculine charms. "Smooth talkin' playboys may try an' get your number," Bibb sings, "but I wanna show you how good a man can be, I long to deliver your every heart's desire, Darlin' you're my destiny." The song closes with the singer rattling off names like Robin Hood, John Henry and other folk heroes who emerged from the collective consciousness of past generations to embolden the downtrodden. "It's intended as a spirit-over-circumstances kind of song," says Bibb, "but in a lighthearted way."

"Heading Home" is a song that Bibb considers very autobiographical. "My roots are really in American folk music in all of its glorious forms - from Southern blues and gospel to mountain music, bluegrass and country - and later on, the folk singers of the `50s and `60s who gathered all of that together and made their own statements," says the New York native, who has lived in various parts of Europe and the UK since the early 1970s. "The song is about being disillusioned in the late `60s," he says. "It's about finding a way to gather up those wonderful threads that made us so optimistic at that time, and try to bring it back home."

Bibb ratchets up the energy to a near rapturous pitch in a live rendition of "In My Father's House," a driving, spiritually charged profession of brotherhood that's reminiscent of the soul classic "People Get Ready." On a more intimate scale is the earthy "Buckets of Rain," a song originally penned by Bob Dylan and delivered here in a cheery midtempo arrangement featuring guitarist Martin Simpson's intricate fingerpicking.

The closer, "Still Livin' On," is Bibb's nod to past masters and musical influences - Mississippi John Hurt, Elizabeth Cotten, Pops Staples and other heroes of blues and gospel whose spirit and influence still lives in their music.

On the good days as well as the bad, Bibb continues to channel these resonant voices from long ago and make them an integral part of his own music and world view. The lesson in Diamond Days is that the road of life is filled with peaks and valleys, and Bibb's sage advice is to accept it all with courage and grace.

Calm, cool, and collected, folksinger Eric Bibb approaches his craft in a style similar to that of Keb' Mo'. His honeyed voice and clean acoustic guitar wrap around songs like a flannel blanket. Bibb's music is filled with hope and uplifting sentiments without being spiritually pedantic. "Forgiveness Is Gold" and "So Glad" tell their stories in the titles alone. Even the lowly shoeshine man can approach his job and life with exuberance ("Dr. Shine") as he helps others improve their lives in his own small way. While these feelings could be juvenile, or--worse--corny, in the wrong hands, Bibb's songwriting and presentation elevate the material with a persuasive professionalism and integrity achieved through a career that spans ten years and as many albums. Credit also goes to producer Glen Scott, who brings just enough changes to the mix. Occasional tuba, snare drum, muted trumpet, and his keyboards add deeper, richer shades to these smooth watercolor sketches. The disc's lone live track, "My Father's House," injects subtle rawness into the proceedings and is certainly a highlight. "Still Livin' On" name checks Mississippi John Hurt, Elizabeth Cotton, Rev. Gary Davis, Son House, and Pops Staples. It shows Bibb's dedication to, and love of, the folk/blues artists who have influenced and preceded him. The music and soul of these legends is imbedded in Bibb's own style that connects on this fine release despite--or maybe because--of its breezy, easygoing charm. --Hal Horowitz

Product Details

  • Audio CD (January 23, 2007)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Telarc
  • ASIN: B000HKD80M
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,612 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Prayer Flags in the Woods on January 23, 2007
Format: Audio CD
For a while now I've been a freak for Eric Bibb's music, especially his "spiritual" songs. I confess to being partial to sweet music and uplifting lyrics, mixed in with a little bit of funk. That might be a lame mix for a lot of people, but for me it is potent one - and Eric Bibb fulfills it more than anyone I know. Combine all that with his music's accessibility, and with what seems his genuine sincerity and open heartedness, and dude, it is enough for me to get happy. Last year's "A Ship Called Love" is one of my favorite records and I listened to it seemingly almost incessantly for months. So I was seriously looking forward to the new record, though with a little trepidation of being disappointed. And I'm very happy to say I really like "Diamond Days" already. It is still pretty new on my box, but I know that there is a lot of music here I'm going to be listening to for a long, long time. What more can you ask for? I ain't got the ear or knowledge to be a music critic so I ain't going to try to tell you what is happening in that kinda way on this record. Though I will say that on first listening I thought a couple of the sides were a little unnecessarily over produced for my taste, given my love for the seeming simplicity of Eric's voice and music. But now I am even liking many of those little studio things too.

If you like Eric Bibb's music, buy this cd. Then again, if you like his music, you don't need me to encourage you. From what I see, the man keeps getting better and better.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Graeme A. G. Scott on January 24, 2007
Format: Audio CD
Eric Bibb

Diamond Days - Telarc CD83660

Prolific, and always listenable, Eric Bibb is back with Diamond Days, and his star continues to rise. For me Eric is the embodiment of all the past masters of the talking blues style brought up to date. By creating and perfecting his quiet delivery he is deceptively laid back. He manages to marry up the culture and history of Africa, with strong American southern influences integrated with his own experiences of the highs and lows experienced by being a working musician.

You get thirteen songs, plus a film shot in the kind of traditional guitar shop beloved by musicians, which sees Eric playing three acoustic numbers.

Tall Cotton opens with nice sounding African guitar, gentle vocals and then some inspirational gospel voices on the chorus. Destiny Blues could be straight out of the depression while Shine On is perhaps the most radio friendly track on the album with its catchy chorus. So Glad, a love song which at times sounds a bit like the Staple Singers, is very mellow.

Storybook Hero has a walking beat and, a surely tongue in cheek lyric about men and their rather dubious charms. The title track Diamond Days reflects on just how varied each day can be between being successful (diamonds) or having to scratch a living (nickels & dimes). Dr Shine has our troubadour learning that a shoe shiner can possess a wealth of dignity, simple philosophy to know where it's at.

The official closer, Still Living On, has Eric tipping his trademark hat to his heroes and masters of the blues by invoking their names. A nice take on Worried Man Blues is hidden away at the end of this is very polished outing by this gentle, and gracious giant of a man.

Graeme Scott

Blues Matters magazine & Radio VRN1287 Scotland
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mathew W. Moran on February 6, 2007
Format: Audio CD
CD REVIEW - `Diamond Days' (Eric Bibb)

For many years music fans have noted that Eric Bibb has one of the most satisfying voices in the business. His latest album, entitled "Diamond Days," is no exception, as the blues troubadour has again provided his fans with a CD that is exceptionally easy on the ears.

The album begins with "Tall Cotton" a song which features Congolese guitarist Kahanga Dekuli, and kicks off a theme of African references. "For me to talk about tall cotton, which is a very southern American expression, and to connect it to African culture is musically, historically and personally very resonant," said Bibb.

Other highlights of the album include the folksy title track, full of the simple wisdom that Bibb is famous for - "Some days you get diamonds/Other days nickels and dimes." The live version of "In My Father's House," is touched with Gospel influences and packs enough kick to raise the album to its peak temperature. The disc closes with a hidden track - the blues classic, "Worried Man Blues." Bibb's straight forward interpretation is the perfect capper, so mellow, it could take the listener right off to slumber land.

"Diamond Days" is available through [...]. It can be purchased at [...] or through Amazon.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Gordon Kyd on September 18, 2007
Format: Audio CD
I remember reading a scathing album review of 'Diamond days' in a local Sydney street press rag sometime in late 2006. The review had the words "saccharin sweet" in it and basically went onto say that this album was a sickeningly happy, over optimistic and watery interpretation of the blues. I hadn't heard the album at this stage however, I knew from the quality of Eric's past albums and superb track record that this reviewer had torn his heart out and was saving it for latter. Eric Bibb's evolved soul was obviously beyond him and he had missed the point. It shouldn't have surprised me as many seem to thrive on the darker, more negative nature of some modern music and Eric Bibb's 'Diamond Days' is anything but that.

You see the beauty of Eric Bibb is not just his heavenly smooth, rich yet at times gritty voice and his devine vocal melodies, nor just his amazing guitar technique and emotive playing style but it is his ability to lyrically tap into the very essense of the human spirit from a beautifully positive and enriching perspective. Traditionally the blues, as it's name suggests, was the release of ones troubles and hardships where as Eric has turned it on it's head and sings about the joys of life, the importance of loved ones and his spiritual faith. To me this is refreshing, uplifting and 'Diamond Days' is full of this. Take track 7 'Dr Shine' which describes a shoe shiner he came across at an airport (Columbus, Ohio). I love the line "Man, your a king not a hobo!" which Dr Shine shouts to Eric. Obviously Mr Bibb's shoes were in desperate need of attention. This song is uplifting as well as being a window into one of the so called "little people" of the world.
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