Having spent the ‘90’s recording and touring with his band, The Lost Highway, Indiana native Otis Gibbs has become a bit of a mid-west legend. When asked what his influences are, the answer that you get isn't always what you would expect. The first to leap to mind would be names like Townes Van Zandt, Jerry Jeff Walker, Butch Hancock or Bob Dylan, but if you dig a little deeper you start hearing names like Wim Wender, Jack Kerouac, Noam Chomsky and Gustav Klimt. Once he gets rolling, you get facts like he's bowled a 226, planted over 6,000 trees, was the 5th grade yo-yo champion at Wanamaker Elementary, has an FBI file and an IQ of 142. 49th & Melancholy, Gibbs’ 3rd full -length release, is a shining example of just this sort of dichotomy. Both haunting and beautiful, 49th is a 14-song collection that illustrates just how deep and wide Gibbs’ breadth as a singer/songwriter as well as a reluctant witness to the human condition goes. Self- produced and predominately acoustic, 49th and Melancholy is a record brimming with stories of hopes and dreams, high romance and love unrequited. Stripped down, stark arrangements compliment Gibbs’ soulful but weary voice. Multi-instrumentalist extraordinaire John Byrne (Mere Mortals, Floating Men, rain chorus) adds an eerily beautiful layer to the recordings on guitar and dobro. Susan Morris provides a soothing, transcendental quality to the recordings on violin with Craig “Slim” Small contributing on fiddle and mandolin as well. Lost Highway veteran Nick McDermot rounds out the arrangements on accordion.
"OTIS GIBBS is apparently an institution of sorts in
the rock clubs of central Indiana, having spent equal
time making music with his band the Lost Highway
onstage and making sure you were 21 at the front door.
As of late, he's become an institution around my CD
player thanks to this appealing solo debut, which
brings to mind several other breakthrough first
releases. It has the simpatico acoustic backing of
Bap Kennedy's 'Domestic Blues,' the gruff charm of
Malcom Holcombe's 'A Hundred Lies,' and flashes of the
this-is-something-special intangibles of Richard
The all-night road song 'East Texas Sutra,' which
folds in a verse of 'farther along' to nice effect
sets the album's pensive tone and introduces Gibbs'
Regular Joe poetry as he promises 'I'm savin' kisses
on the side/I'll bring them to you tomorrow night.'
By the time Gibbs lives up to that vow on the
album-closing lullaby, 'Sleep Gently,' you'll be
grateful there was room in the truck for you.
The images stick ('Her Sunday dress was made of
white/Her eyes reflected Saturday nights,' offers the
fragile 'Portrait of Mada Premavesi'), as do the
melodies. Most memorable on both counts is
'Bernadine,' that oft-told tale of a small-town boy
whose girl leaves him to become a supermodel It's the
perfect mix of wit and grit."