Eric Bibb: Migration Blues (Stony Plain)

Eric Bibb
Migration Blues
(Stony Plain)

Eric Bibb has a career spanning five decades and 37 albums and a seemingly bottomless well of creativity. Bibb’s latest album, ‘Migration Blues,’ released in March of 2017, showcases his many talents on vocals, guitars, six-string banjo, and contrabass guitar and a continued focus on forwarding the blues and folk storytelling tradition and his mission as a self-proclaimed “Progressive preservationist.” Bibb is once again joined by a stellar backing group of like-minded souls that features Michael Jerome Browne (guitars, vocals, banjos, mandolin, and triangle) and JJ Milteau (harmonica). The 15 tracks are a treatise on the current immigration crisis and mass xenophobia that grips our world. In the elegant album notes, Bibb eludes to the premise of the concept that our current state of affairs is history repeating itself and that “fear and ignorance are the problem, not refugees.” He begins quietly with the pleading “Refugee Moan,” then the tempo rises, as does the intensity of “Delta Getaway,” which describes a young man’s desperate flight to freedom. Mass migration always leaves a vacuum and the Delta of 1920s created an opening for Mexicans to fill that gap as described in “Diego’s Blues.” The haunting lament “Prayin’ For Shore” speaks of the refugees lost at sea. The marvelous country Blues “We Had to Move” and “With A Dolla In My Pocket,” along with the deep grinding delta Blues “Blacktop,” are vivid descriptions of life in the deep south. Bibb delivers passionate covers of Dylan’s tome “Masters of War” and Guthrie’s anthem “This Land Is Your Land,” giving emphasis to the masterfully crafted lyrics and making them more pertinent now than ever. Bibb boldly declares his faith and sings “I still believe” on the lovely song of hope and the album’s spiritual centerpiece “Brotherly Love.”