Gibson Brothers Iron & Diamonds

Upstate bluegrass upstarts Eric and Leigh Gibson position the gentle swing of Iron & Diamond’s opening track, "Cabin Down Below,” like a personal invitation into their living room, sounding as relaxed and sincere as two best friends (and if you recognise this as a Tom Petty track, know that he probably wouldn’t). A laidback introduction to their tenth release, this fiddle- and banjo-driven beginning continues as they showcase their distinctive vocal charms, which could only be tied together by blood. Their material has always been firmly anchored by a strong sense of family and place, and original songs like the title track cement the deal. Yet when they select a cover tune, they transform it into a Gibson Brothers’ classic, as they do on Steve Earle’s "The Other Side of Town” and Roger Miller’s "A World So Full of Love.” However, what distances the Gibsons from more traditional camps is their ability to write originals that celebrate the roots of the genre while rejuvenating the category. Leigh’s "Angry Man” is a standout example, as is Eric’s "Picker Blues” and "Bloom off the Rose,” each demonstrating their distinctive lead vocals, their always-heartfelt harmonies and the joyous, ever-lively delivery of long-time band-mates Mike and Junior Barber (bass, guitars). The additions of Rick Hayes on mandolin and Clayton Campbell on fiddle help form the superglue that bonds the unit even tighter together. Another bona fide addition to their sophisticated canon. (Sugar Hill)