With Deeper In The Well, Eric Bibb travels into the heart ofthe Missisippi Delta and Dixieland for an outing that takes in perhaps some of the boldest stylistic moves to date.
The album kicks off with the pulsating blues of Bayou Belle, a track that seems to melt in the hot sun with a steady chain gang beat. As the album moves forward the instrumentation becomes denser; the title track Dig A Little Deeper In The Well, a jaunty rendition packed with harmonica, fiddle, mandolin with spoons to keep time.
With almost a third of Deeper In The Well devoted to covers, its not until the third of the album Sinnerman –a traditional song partly made famous by his father Leon Bibb five decades ago — reinvents itself as a dark and twisted cautionary tale in the vein of Flood Water from Eric’s 2010 album Booker’s Guitar.
Bibb doesn’t depart completely from his truly unique style of acoustic honesty. In My Time recounts a unique life philosophy that longtime fans have been treated to in songs throughout the years. “Been treated like a tramp, treated like a star / From Albert Hall to rundown bars / I’ve had it all / In My time”. Sittin’ In A Hotel Room is a realtime glimpse of that contentment that seems to dominate Bibb’s work these days. A moment where Bibb leaves his trademark whisper and opens up his voice to a beautiful melodic burst at the end of the verses is something that leaves me wanting so much more of this from Bibb in future.
Bob Dylan — then a burgeoning young talent of the New York folk scene Bibb’s father Leon floated in — gave a young Eric Bibb some sage advice: “Keep it simple; forget all that fancy stuff.” And so it seems fitting that 40 years later when Bibb tackles Dylan’s anthemic The Times They Are A Changin’, that it becomes a truly simple, uplifting rendition, with Bibb’s acoustic guitar backed delicately by banjo.
Deeper In The Well showcases perhaps the most varied and interesting instrumentation of Bibb’s career. As Bibb digs his way through Americana we’re treated to a feast of music that gently sets the groove for one of the best collections of songs that Bibb has put together. The songs Bibb has penned for Deeper In The Well serve as more than able brethren to the the covers and traditional songs that together give the album a feeling of weight that I’ve not encountered previously in Eric Bibb’s work.