Eric Bibb: Dear America

Eric Bibb is a Grammy-nominated singer/ songwriter with a vivid and varied backstory. An early participant in Greenwich Village’s storied ‘60s folk revival, he carries the core of that heritage within his blues-based regimen. His new album, Dear America, reflects both reverence and regret for America’s turbulent past, particularly the ugly truths and unresolved issues that resurfaced with the murder of George Floyd and the other racial wounds that resulted as well. While songs such as “Whole World’s Got the Blues,” “Dear America,” “Tell Yourself,” “White & Black” and “Emmett’s Ghost” address those issues, scorching indictment is understated to a great degree. For the most part, Bibb opts for optimism and offers encouragement to help close the divide. “The road we been walkin’ on’s, been windin’ through some mean an’ fearful places,” he declares on “Love’s Kingdom,” a song that shares a steady groove and a delivery that brings to mind an old Curtis Mayfield classic. “But everything can change if we believe and finally let it go.” Bibb enlists some formidable assistance from Ron Carter, Eric Gales and Shaneeka Simon, but it’s the calm and caress found in “Tell Yourself,” “Along the Way” and the gospel-tinged closing duet, “One-ness of Love,” that have the most emphatic impact. Cloaking much of the album in a predominantly acoustic sheen, Bibb makes even the most tangled circumspect cause for empathy and assurance. So too, the loose and limber double take on “Talkin’ About a Train” finds quiet resolve in its steady stride and seemingly spontaneous execution. Dear America shares the perspective of a clear-headed pen pal, offering the kind of affirmation and conviction that the nation currently needs.

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