Daughn Gibson – Me Moan
Daughn (that’s Don to those who prefer their names with fewer vowels and consonants) Gibson delivered one of the most stunning albums of last year. All Hell was so cold, it was difficult to love. But it was utterly unique and exciting for that reason. In his deep baritone he sang sad but syncopated songs over samples of old country cuts. It wouldn’t be BBQ listening, but it was strangely affecting. In a short time, Daughn Gibson has moved on. Late last year, he released a single, ‘Lite Me Up’, that promised a more uptempo sound. Now with Sub Pop, his new album, Me Moan, builds on this change. The first track, ‘The Sound of Law’, starts things off frantically. In fact, pretty much all of the tracks are now backed by a much stronger beat. Whereas last year he seemed to reside in the funeral home, this year he’s heading for the dance floor. Well, perhaps an alternative, slightly gothy, Nashville dance floor, but a dance floor nonetheless. When it works, it works really well. Backed by some female vocals, ‘You Don’t Fade’ tells a typically scary story. ‘Mad Oceans’ samples the bagpipes in the best way that you’ll hear all year. But sometimes it doesn’t quite work. The rockabilly-lite ‘Kissin on the Blacktop’ sounds like the bastard son of Brian Setzer. And then there’s the vocals. There’s no getting away from them. They have to be discussed. Daughn Gibson has an unmistakable voice. It resonates. It adds depth, both sonically and emotionally. When he sings about tragedy, you feel he’s been there. It’s his strongest suit, but it can be his weakest too. Listen to the elongation of the word “campfire” on ‘Franco’. The way the vowels are tortured. The manner in which the word is deformed and distorted. The delivery is no longer a calling card. It’s a schtick. And on ‘The Right Signs’ it comes close to being a novelty act. Me Moan is an interesting album. Musically, it sounds great. Daughn Gibson has still got something exciting and unique going on. But there is a risk that he’ll become a parody of himself. And that would be a waste of a great talent.