Mike Gibbons

Marigolds: The Bangkok Sessions

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On Marigolds, which consists of sessions recorded in Thailand, Mike Gibbons shows that passion is something that can drive an artist but isn't always going to mean that the end result is going to be remarkable in its own right. It's not that there's not room for driven people armed with an acoustic guitar, strong sentiments, and sympathetic collaborators in studio, but a little can go a long way outside of the deftest of hands. Gibbons sometimes fits together his impulses toward the dramatic, if not melodramatic, with a spot-on musical ear, "Cobras in the Bushes" being a sharp example: addressing the then-recent upheavals in Thailand might be hard for an outsider to pull off, but the combination of threatening imagery and honestly moving, mournful arrangements turns out to be a success. "Oh My," with its blend of guitar and calm flute, also hits the mark when it comes to the vague feeling of acoustic early-'90s grunge-goes-soft feel that Gibbons clearly enjoys; he's one of the few people around who balances a love of Eddie Vedder's voice without a desire to fully imitate it completely. But Gibbons' gifts in general turn into a series of one vaguely inspiring song after another; they don't quite stick in the memory as they should. A classic example can be seen with the one cover on the album, Tracy Chapman's "Talkin' Bout a Revolution." At the start, his take is calmer and more considered than even Chapman's original take, but by the middle of the song, it's all high-volume vocal intensity that just makes you wish he had stuck with his original guns.

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