The Gibson Brothers/Darkest Hours/Bull Run Records
Four out of Five Stars
Videos by American Songwriter
One is definitely several steps ahead of the game when Jerry Douglas oversees your album and an all-star backing band—one that includes Douglas on resophonic guitar and lap steel, Guthrie Trapp on guitar, Eamon McGloughlin playing fiddle, Mike Barber and Todd Parks on bass, John Gardner on drums, Justin Moses playing mandolin, and cameo vocals from Alison Krauss—is on-hand to see things through. Still, the real credit goes to the two principals, specifically, brothers Eric and Leigh Gibson, for creating an album that represents them at their best.
Comprised of songs Douglas and the Gibsons considered well suited to their road work, Darkest Hours shines in large part due to the fact that the material is more than simply well-played, but, just as importantly, also a collection of superb songs. So while they stay true to a bluegrass mantra—opening track “What a Difference a Day Makes,” “So Long Mama” and “Dust” make that clear—they don’t diminish their ability to simply craft standout compositions in the process. Each of the tracks derives from a personal perspective, allowing both feelings and finesse to consistently shine through. The album rings with absolute exhilaration, but sincerity and sentiment also shine through. “Heart’s Desire,” “I Feel the Same Way As You,” “My Darkest Hour,” and “I Go Driving” offer testimonials that reflect a true sense of caring and commitment. That said, the music is delivered with a special flourish—with Douglas at the helm participating in the proceedings, one wouldn’t expect anything else —one that effectively enhances the arrangements. So too, given the Brothers’ close-knit harmonies, the Everly Brothers often come to mind in terms of the style and set-up.
As a result, even those tunes which veer more to classic country manage to maintain the same verve and vitality. “Shut Up and Dance” is an obvious example, an indulgence in some simple feel-good frenzy. On the other hand, the heartache that informs “Who’s Gonna Want A Heart Like Mine” and “Your Eyes Say His Name” belies any hint of pretense in favor of clarity and conviction. Ultimately, it would seem all but impossible to resist the lure of these engaging offerings. Then again, who would even want to try?