Vance Gilbert doesn't like to be tied down to one subject or style, so one can't really pigeonhole him as a singer/songwriter on Unfamiliar Moon. It would be easy, nonetheless, to get that impression as the album opens. "Ten Thousand Skies" paints a gentle, impressionistic sketch while "Leaving Avon" is a lengthy story-song about leaving a familiar place behind. Halfway through the album, though, Gilbert delivers the slow, jazzy "Unforgivable," backed by a pleasant piano, a thick bass, and light brushwork. The song has a classic feel to it, the kind of song Nat King Cole might've sung. "That Front Porch Song," on the other hand, delves into blues and gospel (complete with the line, "I just wanna jump up and sing/ Thank you Lord"), while the last two pieces on Unfamiliar Moon qualify as protest songs. The first, "I've Got a Plane," tells the odd tale -- to a country and western beat -- of a pilot who refuses to land the plane until there is peace on earth. The latter song, "Alone Down Here," is more subtle and vague in its message, returning to the impressionistic style of the opening cut. For those who enjoy singer/songwriters, Gilbert has quite a lot to offer, but for those who want a little something extra with their navel gazing, Unfamiliar Moon should fit the bill.
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AllMusic Review by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.