Ring the Bell

The Gibson Brothers

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Ring the Bell Review

by Rick Anderson

Despite the fact that the brother duo has a long and honorable bluegrass tradition going back as far as the Monroe Brothers (from which Bill Monroe emerged as a pioneering figure in bluegrass music) and the Stanley Brothers (which similarly produced Ralph Stanley as a bluegrass icon), the Gibson Brothers have never exactly been a bluegrass band. They're certainly getting closer to that mainstream sound on this, their eleventh album, mainly because a full band is playing with them on every song. It's also because of the songs themselves: "I Know Whose Tears" is classic high lonesome bluegrass, and the Eric Gibson original "That's What I Get for Loving You" also could have been written 50 years ago. Still, there are significant aspects of their sound that keep them in their own little niche. "I Can't Like Myself" sounds like it's informed by a little bit of psychotherapy (not one of the more common bluegrass song themes), and there's a rich, almost fruity tone to the lead vocals on "What Can I Do?" that is quite a ways from the bluegrass mainstream as well. Then there's the Tom Petty cover, but bluegrass versions of rock & roll songs have been pretty much par for the course ever since the Country Gentlemen. The bottom line is that the Gibson Brothers have both embraced and broadened bluegrass tradition ever since their first album in 1994, and look set to continue doing so. Good for them.

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