New Blues/Roots: Eric Bibb — Ridin’

Label: Stony Plains Records

Release date: March 24, 2023

Eric Bibb‘s follow-up to his critically acclaimed 2021 album, Dear America, Ridin’ is a continuation of the vision that informs Bibb’s artistry as a modern-day Blues troubadour. Grounded in the folk and blues tradition with contemporary sensibilities, Bibb’s music continues to reflect his thoughts on his experiences in the world in which we live. Throughout, Bibb offers satisfying, inspiring and purposeful songs. A two-time Grammy Award nominee, Eric Bibb is admired for synthesizing his activism and his art. Of course, it helps that his is a voice that sings directly to the heart.

Upon receiving the album, the track that I forwarded to instantly was “500 Miles.” An artist’s ability to make such a seemingly simple, and classic, folk tune his own is a daunting challenge. How does Mr. Bibb fare? He transforms the song into a soothing cloud that anyone would willingly float away on, far from the troubles of the everyday world. He turns a lament into a solution and a celebration.

The song is a useful framing device that allows the other, all-original material to be understood within a folk context. It anchors the other narratives in a way that reminds the listener of folk music’s continuity of relevance. These songs — and especially Eric Bibb’s performance of them — highlight the permanence of a good folk tune and a vital folk lyric. Songs are crucial. Thankfully, Eric Bibb is here to give them life. An added bonus is that he shares the recording studio with a collection of esteemed guests on certain tracks including Taj Mahal, Jontavious Willis, Russell Malone, Amar Sundy, Harrison Kennedy, and Habib Koité. Excellent company, given the opportunity to contribute significantly, has resulted in a stellar album.

Ridin’ Track List

01 Family
02 Ridin’
03 Blues Funky Like Dat (ft. Taj Mahal & Jontavious Willis)
04 The Ballad of John Howard Griffin (ft. Russell Malone)
05 500 Miles
06 Tulsa Town
07 Onwards (Interlude)
08 Hold the Line (ft. Russell Malone)
09 I Got My Own (ft. Amar Sundy)
10 Call Me By My Name (ft. Harrison Kennedy)
11 Joybells
12 Sinner Man with Eric Bibb String Band (Live at Wheatland Festival)
13 Free (ft. Habib Koité)
14 People You Love
15 Church Bells (Interlude)

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