C. Gibbs

The Pinkermen Set

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Gibbs puts forth pastiches of various styles and performers on this reasonably enjoyable set. Yet it's one that leaves you wondering what exactly is distinctively Gibbs himself, rather than a crafty combination of influences and styles. Neil Young's a big influence, for sure, with several songs -- "Oversized Pin Cushion," "Straps & Chains," and "Twin Star Scar" -- sounding like rootsy Young songs with a different vocalist. Yet at other times he's strongly reminiscent of people and styles not too similar to Young, like David Bowie (on "Killing Snakes"), Paul McCartney, or even Gavin Friday. Americana and Brecht-Weill-ian cabaret influences are also scattered about often, sometimes even combining in the same song, which is ingenious but not astonishingly moving. Lyrically, Gibbs favors storytelling or observational pieces whose downbeat bleakness isn't quite matched by the gentler, less-pessimistic melodies and arrangements. "Twin Star Scar" seems like it just might be about the 9/11 World Trade Center disaster, but it's too vague to really make heads or tails of in that regard.

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