Claudia Gibson “The Fields of Chazy”

Independent, 2024

Making up the ground with some really fine songs.

Claudia Gibson "Fields of Chazy" album coverOriginally from the suburbs of New York, Claudia Gibson has a history performing in the city before and after attending music school. In past times, being signed to a record company meant much more to aspiring artists than it does now. With little record company interest, Gibson walked away from the business to concentrate on other things, not least the raising of her three children.

Fast forward a couple of decades, a move to Texas reignited Gibson’s enthusiasm for songwriting and performing. Her first album ‘Step by Step’ (2016) and the follow up EP ‘Louisiana Sky’ (2019) got her recognition in the folk/americana fraternity with some added radio play. She also participated in a few songwriting festivals and competitions along the way, winning the Woody Guthrie Songwriting Contest in 2018. The momentum was stalled somewhat by the pandemic but after lockdown Gibson supported Walt Wilkins a few times and they became close. Wilkins’ “Rivertown” is a classic. He co-produced and contributed a substantial amount to this album, recorded in the summer of 2023 at Jumping Dog Studios in Austin.

The title track pays homage to her grandfather born in 1881, an accordion player and Chazy’s very own Johnny Appleseed, hence the album’s artwork. ‘Unbound’ is a super song with some delicious pedal steel – despite the ending to a relationship, the narrator is upbeat and hopeful as she drives home to the familiar. There’s some clever wordplay and imagery: “Billboards and license plates/ Reminders of the state I’m in” and  “A stray dog’s running down the road/- Unbound- He’s looking for a friend”. Another highlight is ‘Rain’. It is a gritty tribute to Valerie Carter and there is a gloriously defiant edge to Gibson’s voice. “Some people they just ain’t made for living/ The spirit’s too pure to be sustained”. An interesting inclusion is the traditional Scottish tune ‘The Night Visiting Song’. Irish singer Pat Byrne assisting harmoniously with the vocals, it is a classy arrangement.

A big credit should go to the assembled group of musicians, mostly from Austin, who definitely helped to enhance that sound. The album’s nine songs are not what you would call cohesive but they do showcase Gibson’s undoubted talent.

7/10
7/10

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