There are certain types of music I group together into a category called “Emotional Dumps”. It’s not the type of music that wears makeup, dances a jig, or snorts cocaine off the small of your back. It’s that deep and mellow shit where the muscles in your body suddenly relax. You shut your eyes and let out a sigh. Midway through, you might even sneak out a quick and quiet, “oh fuck ya” into the room. It’s that type of music that gives you what you so desperately need, even though you didn’t know what the fuck that was. It’s shit you sink into. Your internal dialogue will start to slow, take on a drawl, and speak with a wisdom beyond its years.
Oh, fuck ya.
But Steve Tibbetts didn’t always play this way. Motherfucker used to screech diddly-diddly-diddly-doos! and shred the fuck out of his electric guitar. That’s how he got his following in the late ’70s, super sensational fellow shredders! Bodacious! Tubular! Wicked Awesome Fucking Face! Ergo, he became known as the guitar guy. That motherfucker in a guitar store that won’t ever shut the fuck up. But he kept going, kept challenging himself, playing with everyone from Norwegian hardingfele player Knut Hamre to the Tibetan Buddhist nun Chöying Drolma. In other words, this motherfucker got deep as balls. So, when he turned his focus to a simple Martin 12-string acoustic guitar in 2010, I sat the fuck up and paid attention. And, after listening to the album, I was eager for his next. It would come any day now!
Cut to ten, very long, years later.
I can say for fucking certain that a good Steve Tibbetts album is well worth the wait. Steve isn’t defined too easily. He plays a type of guitar that sits somewhere between postmodern and neo-primitive. It orbits the planets of John Fahey, Gustavo Santaolalla, and early Ry Cooder. On this album, as always, is Steve’s long-time percussionist, Marc Anderson. They’ve played together since 1988. Marc, like Steve, is one deep motherfucker. He’s not a drummer, he’s a musician. There’s a big fucking difference. The other musician on this album is Michelle Kinney. She plays the cello and drone sounds. She’s a fucking pro, playing with the likes of John fucking Zorn. These three feed off each other. With influences and tunings from so many different areas of the world that, in the end, it’s just human music. It just fucking is. They found the soul of something old, fragile, and unique and play the shit out of it. It comes out as playing that place where the roots intertwine between Tibetan spiritual music, jazz, folk, and blues in a smooth single sound. It’s fucking beautiful.