Eric Bibb is one of the best bluesmen still living and active. With mainly acoustic stringed instruments and his strong but smooth voice, his latest album, Migration Blues, is a textual marvel, but more importantly, its content reaches through decades of tradition to help make sense of today.
A note from Bibb on his website includes this enlightening explanation: "While pondering the current refugee crisis I found myself thinking about the Great Migration […]. Whether you're looking at a former sharecropper, hitchhiking from Clarksdale to Chicago in 1923, or an orphan from Aleppo, in a boat full of refugees in 2016 — it's migration blues."
Songs like "Refugee Moan" and "Prayin' For Shore" illustrate the direness of the current refugee crisis, while "Four Years, No Rain" and a crucial cover of Bob Dylan's "Masters of War" flesh out some context (drought and war being major factors behind the crisis). "Delta Getaway" and "We Had to Move" tie more directly into the Great Migration as an interesting and insightful parallel. The album is also lifted by earnest, hopeful inclusions like "Brotherly Love" and "This Land Is Your Land." Notably, the latter of these songs includes a version of Woody Guthrie's original "private property" verse.
Personal and political storytelling, social criticism and perseverance through struggles are some of the themes that make folk music forms so captivating and enduring. Eric Bibb's Migration Blues offers plenty of that, and his whisky-smooth voice and virtuosic guitar convey it all perfectly. (Stony Plain)