Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Aaron Gibson Ties Up Loose Ends

Album Review
Aaron Gibson - Loose Ends
Genre - Alternative

I got the Aaron Gibson album, Loose Ends, back in August, when it first came out. After listening to it, I made up my mind that this would be saved for my last review of the year. Why? Because Loose Ends moved me so much with its bare-bones emotion that I didn't want any other album to follow it. That’s not to say all the other music I've reviewed this year has not touched me as well; each project throughout 2013 has earned a place of distinction in my heart and soul, but Gibson’s Loose Ends so overwhelmed me with a surge of personal emotion that I knew right away it was going to be my choice for album of the year.

Loose Ends is a solo bass project: one man, one bass, and one amp. And some recording gear, of course. There’s apparently no EQ, no effects, and no fancy production. It was recorded live in Vancouver, Washington - man, bass, and nature as one.

Gibson’s voice is heart wrenching, melancholy, introspective - I’m running out of adjectives here! His style reminds me of Tracy Chapman singing “Fast Car”, and how she told a story that meant something to her, something very important and worthy of sharing with the world. Every song on Gibson’s Loose Ends reached out to me in the same way. The man is both a bassist and a troubadour.

From Gibson’s YouTube channel:

Here is the concept: Four string bass, standard tuning, live recording of bass and vocals, ALL settings set to neutral (or 12 O'clock). No EQ tweaks, no effects or extra strings. This is not in opposition to those things at all. I merely felt it necessary to express myself in this way. My action was even higher than normal, which made it a bit of a fight. I thought that it would be interesting to try and produce a work that would be both listenable and easily produced with any bass and amp. The experience of being so limited in a project has already freed me to move on in my art.

The album line-up:

01 - Sunshine - 03:12
02 - A Ways to Go - 03:32
03 - Waiting - 03:13
04 - Love - 03:04
05 - Peace - 03:57
06 - Beautiful - 02:02
07 - Hard to Get - 04:35
08 - Halves - 02:47
09 - Death - 04:30
10 - Victory - 05:27

The opening song, called Sunshine, caught me off guard in that Gibson’s voice sounds a lot like Jonathan Edwards, who sang Sunshine, back in 1971. Of course, this is not the same song, but as soon as I heard Gibson’s voice, I thought of Edwards.

A Ways To Go is a beautiful, musical treat, with great bass licks. Orignally done by Emmylou Harris.

Waiting is an original Gibson tune. Raw and sweetly sung. Love the raked bass licks!

Next up is Love, another Gibson original. Nah... no words. Just listen. Black bass strings, to boot!

Peace is a socially aware tune that reminds me of the Sixties protest songs. This is also where Gibson put me into thoughts of Tracy Chapman. The song has a personal message and asks us all to travel within about the way we present ourselves.

Beautiful is a gift to Gibson’s wife. The bass is haunting and richly creative. This song dances on the wire between Alternative and Fusion Jazz.

Hard to Get is a song with a spiritual theme. More questions than answers, in my view; the best kind of song!

Halves is a song about a man and his television. From Aaron Gibson’s website:

The concept for Halves was based solely on the idea of encouraging good folks to kill their televisions, something I believe in!

Death. Well, what can a song with this title actually mean? In this case, it’s a heavy, foreboding piece, with harmonics and a pace that marches like a drum. It seems to me he is singing of a close call. Life and death? Relationship and ending? Hard times and redemption? Let it be as you will.

The closing number is called Victory. Nice to come out on top in the end, isn't it? This is a softer, resolution-type song. A song that always belongs at the end of the collection. I see it as a sense of family, unity. I love the ending of this tune. A bass lover’s dream.

To watch Gibson play is to see a jaw-dropping array of raking, tapping, slapping, and an almost banjo-like plucking technique - mad skills! To listen to Aaron Gibson is to lose yourself in his music. You simply disappear into each story, each note, whether as individual pieces or a journey entire.

Aaron Gibson’s Loose Ends gets my vote for Bass Album Of The Year! Once you try it, I’m sure you’ll (at the very least) put it in the running.

© 2013 CL Seamus for Thunder Row

Visit Aaron Gibson online, where his music is available for a dollar value of your choice!

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