All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

5

Eric Bibb: Migration Blues

Chris Mosey By

Sign in to view read count
Eric Bibb says in the sleeve note to Migration Blues, his most politicized album to date: "The way I see it, prejudice towards our brothers and sisters who are currently called 'refugees' is the problem. Fear and ignorance are the problems. Refugees are not 'problems'—they are courageous fellow human beings escaping dire circumstances."

Not the way Donald Trump sees it.

Bibb, probably America's most important folk blues artist, shouldn't have much to fear from Trump, thanks to his own migrations. He lives in Scandinavia and records in France. But he says: "With this album I want to encourage us all to keep our minds and hearts wide open to the ongoing plight of refugees everywhere. As history shows, we all come from people who, at some time or another, had to move."

He mixes American folk music "classics," such as Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land" and Bob Dylan's "Masters Of War" with his own songs about the current refugee crisis. "Prayin' For Shore," a gospel-based tune about the exodus from Syria, is all the more powerful for its understated vocal: In a ol' leaky boat/Somewhere on the sea/Tryin' to get away from the war/Welcome or not, we got to land soon/Oh, Lord—prayin' for shore.

Even when his songs have no words, there an underlying statement of sorts. On the instrumental title track he plays a resophonic 12-string guitar bought in Germany, end destination for most Syrian refugees. Not that any of them could afford such an instrument.

Bibb also finds inspiration in the distant past, citing Roman orator Cicero: "To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a child. For what is the worth of human life, unless it is woven into the life of our ancestors by the records of history."

"Delta Getaway" trod this path, based on the story told him by "a blues elder" of a migration that took place in the US long before Bibb was born: flight from the murderous Deep South to the relatively free industrial north.

"Brotherly Love" is a reaffirmation of faith in the peaceful transformation of society of which that exodus was part. Meditating on the paranoid pronouncements of the present incumbent of the White House, Bibb says: "As dire as our situation is, I still believe that the compass of brotherly love can guide us safely to peaceful shores."

Let's hope he's right, people.

Track Listing: Refugee Moan; Delta Getaway; Diego’s Blues; Prayin’ for Shore; Migration Blues; Four Years, No Rain; We Had To Move; Masters Of War; Brotherly Love; La Vie Est Comme Un Oignon (Life Is Like An Onion); With A Dolla’ In My Pocket; This Land Is Your Land; Postcard From Booker; Blacktop; Mornin’ Train.

Personnel: Eric Bibb: vocals, guitars and banjo; Michael Jerome Browne: guitars, vocals, banjos, mandolin and triangle; J. J. Milteau: harmonica; Olle Linder: drums; Big Daddy Wilson, Ulrika Bibb: back-up vocals.

Title: Migration Blues | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Dixiefrog

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

Shop Music & Tickets

Click any of the store links below and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

CD/LP/Track Review
Extended Analysis
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
 

Get Onboard

Telarc Records
2008

buy
Sisters and Brothers

Sisters and Brothers

Telarc Records
2004

buy
 

Good Stuff

EarthBeat!
1998

buy

Related Articles

Read Circulate Susanna CD/LP/Track Review
Circulate Susanna
by Karl Ackermann
Published: November 13, 2018
Read Jazzamenco CD/LP/Track Review
Jazzamenco
by Jack Bowers
Published: November 13, 2018
Read You Have Options CD/LP/Track Review
You Have Options
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 13, 2018
Read Heroes, Saints and Clowns CD/LP/Track Review
Heroes, Saints and Clowns
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: November 13, 2018
Read Bowie, Berlin & Beyond CD/LP/Track Review
Bowie, Berlin & Beyond
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 13, 2018
Read For You CD/LP/Track Review
For You
by Patrick Burnette
Published: November 12, 2018
Read "Light in the Ring: The Ali Suite" CD/LP/Track Review Light in the Ring: The Ali Suite
by Harry S. Pariser
Published: June 7, 2018
Read "NEVER DIE! by \\livingfossil//" CD/LP/Track Review NEVER DIE! by \\livingfossil//
by Friedrich Kunzmann
Published: February 22, 2018
Read "Beautiful Liar" CD/LP/Track Review Beautiful Liar
by Patrick Burnette
Published: May 8, 2018
Read "Contrast" CD/LP/Track Review Contrast
by David A. Orthmann
Published: April 1, 2018
Read "Live in Lisbon" CD/LP/Track Review Live in Lisbon
by Glenn Astarita
Published: September 13, 2018
Read "Codex" CD/LP/Track Review Codex
by Doug Collette
Published: December 3, 2017