The only thing deeper than his chest hair is his charismatic baritone croon. “I’m Daughn Gibson,” he might introduce himself. “You sure are,” would be the response from sundress-and-cowboy-boot girl. “I spell it, D-a-u-g-h-n,” he would make clear. “Oh, I bet you do, honey, I bet you do.”
Gibson, a country-noir troubadour whose collars and moods are blue, is in-coming from coal-country Pennsylvania. He is tall, dark and handsome; his music is, too.
He makes Copperhead Road seem like a garden path in comparison; Chris Isaak steps aside when Gibson walks past. And the dude is so freshly strange and so ruggedly romantic, you don’t even mind when he brings out the synthetic bagpipe effect.
Me Moan, streaming now at NPR.com, is Gibson’s second album, a cinematic follow-up to his more austere All Hell debut. It is roots music at its core, but the shaft is deep, with plenty of electro effects and moody textures to keep things interesting. More than once I was reminded of Iggy Pop’s version of Real Wild Child: “In a world gone crazy, everything seems hazy, I’m a wild one.”
The highly original album’s post-surf centrepiece is The Right Signs, a possible soundtrack to a time-lapsed thunder-cloud vision. “But it’s a mystery to me why I fell for you,” Gibson bellows, his heavy drawl manipulated oddly. “My favourite dream is loving someone new.”
Kissin’ on the Blacktop is 100-proof barroom romp and a strange disconnected story. All My Days Off is a delicately lazy steel-guitar account of life on the dole – something like a white-trash Chris Cornell, quite beautiful in its way.
There’s a sense of early-Springsteen restlessness that threads its way through this always interesting long-player. Gibson even uses, by permission hopefully, the Springsteen word “boulevard.” Closing track Into the Sea is light on its piano feet and effortlessly sweeping. Gibson is somewhat regretfully moving on, though he doesn’t take the easy way out: “Crawlin’ through the lion’s den again/I don’t know if the lion can keep to himself again, I don’t wanna crawl through a place where the animals don’t eat at night.”
Good luck with that, Daughn spelled D-a-u-g-h-n.
The world’s gone crazy, just like it always has, and Gibson tries to make his coolly untamed way through it. To be continued, I’m sure.
Daughn Gibson plays Vancouver’s Biltmore Cabaret, July 25.