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The Gibson Brothers

Help My Brother – 2011 (Compass)

Reviewed by John Lupton

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Born less than a year apart, Eric (the elder) and Leigh Gibson aren't quite twins, but from their earliest exposure as twentysomething bluegrass prodigies they've drawn legions of fans for the striking echoes in their vocal sound that hearken back to the classic brother acts of country and bluegrass. They've drawn comparisons to just about everyone from the Louvins to the McReynolds to the Delmores. Now pushing 40, this 10th release from the upstate New York natives finds them maturing and, if anything, getting stronger and more self-assured in their distinctive brother harmony.

In previous interviews over the years, the Gibsons readily acknowledged the influence of the historic brother teams, but they've also cited the "Bakersfield-style" vocal harmony of Buck Owens and Don Rich as inspiration for their sound, and that's actually a bit closer to the mark - if the Buckaroos had done bluegrass, it might have sounded a lot like this.

Both brothers continue to evolve as songwriters as well, with the title track (Leigh) and Frozen In Time (Eric) standing out, but they're comfortable and at ease with material ranging from "Americana" writers like Tim O'Brien (Want vs. Need) to old time traditionalists like Joe Newberry (Singing As We Rise).

"Help My Brother" is about the small pleasures and rewards of life that are right in front of us if we're just willing to look, and the Gibson Brothers continue to be one of them.