The Gibson Brothers

They Called It Music – 2013 (Compass)

Reviewed by John Lupton

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It's now two full decades since Eric and Leigh Gibson, natives of the farthest reaches of upstate New York (not much more than a couple of stones throws from the Canadian border) debuted on the bluegrass circuit in their early twenties, instantly winning fans with tight harmonies that drew immediate and enthusiastic comparisons to the great tradition of "brother duets" in country music - the Louvins, McReynolds, Delmores, Osbornes, Bollicks (Blue Sky Boys) - well, the list is pretty long at this point.

There's more to it than that, though, as the Gibsons have spoken in interviews of their early years singing together on the family farm, trying to emulate the harmonies they were hearing from Buck Owens and Don Rich on their parents' LPs and 45s - brothers not by blood, but certainly by musical spirit.

As the Gibsons head into their 40s, "They Called It Music" is yet another installment highlighting their devotion to the beauty and honesty of the traditions of country music. The majority of the material is written or co-written by one or the other of the brothers, but they again demonstrate a remarkable grasp of what makes a good country song. Prime examples include Eric's title track and Leigh's Something Comin' To Me, co-written with Shawn Camp in the wake of the passing of father Kelley Gibson. Other treats are drawn from the likes of Loretta Lynn (Dying For Someone To Live For) and Mark Knopfler (the bluesy Daddy's Gone To Knoxville). From a straight-ahead bluegrass perspective, though, perhaps the most entertaining cut is Sundown And Sorrow, a Peewee King song recorded by many over the years, including Hank Williams. It's a tune that begs to be done with bluegrass drive, and the Gibsons hit it spot-on.