BY LEE ZIMMERMAN
Otis Gibbs practically oozes authenticity. He’s the perfect example of how unassuming origins can translate into a well-worn sound that finds no need for posturing or pretense. After all, when you hail from a town like Wanamaker, Indiana, life is seasoned by the salt of the earth. Yet despite that fact he’s been crouched below the radar for the past ten years, he’s won frequent comparisons to Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, Steve Earle and Bruce Springsteen through a blue collar sensibility that seems all too apt.
Gibbs’ latest, Souvenirs of a Misspent Youth, comes across as a mostly reflective set, chock full of fiddles, banjos and a rustic, rambling sound that purveys genuine folk finesse. Gibbs’ gruff, gravelly voice adds an air of authenticity, and while some of the songs take on sordid subjects – shootings, ne’er do wells and the seamier side of life — others, like “Ghosts of Our Fathers,” “Kokomo Bar” and “It Was a Train” boast an untarnished appeal. Gibbs plays the role of Everyman who, when faced with obstacles and challenges, continues to persevere. As a result, Souvenirs of a Misspent Youth might be perceived as nothing less than a testament to his tenacity.
DOWNLOAD: “Ghosts of Our Fathers,” “Kokomo Bar,” “It Was a Train”