Get Onboard features guest appearances by Bonnie Raitt and Ruthie Foster
“If there’s a more inspiring, or inspired, acoustic blues artist than Eric Bibb working today, I’ve no idea who it might be.”
-- Montreal Gazette
For the better part of four decades, guitarist/vocalist/troubadour Eric Bibb’s music has been, among other things, an invitation to a more enlightened world view. His rich blend of blues, folk, soul and gospel has not only entertained audiences around the globe, but has also inspired them to look at prevailing circumstances from a fresh perspective and take a more positive and compassionate view of the human condition.
Recorded in Nashville, Tennessee (with post-production work done in Stockholm, Sweden) in the spring and summer of 2007, Get Onboard is “without a doubt, one of the most exciting projects of my career,” says Bibb. “It is a further exploration into the place where blues meets gospel and soul.” In addition to Raitt and Foster, other contributors on hand at the Nashville sessions include keyboardists/producer Glen Scott, guitarist/bassist Tommy Sims and drummer Lemar Carter.
“What I’m trying to convey with this record is a very simple but very direct message,” says Bibb. “I want people to get onboard, not only with me as an artist, but with the spirit of what drives this record – the spirit of unity. We’re living in a time when we really do need to try to walk a mile in another person’s shoes. We have to stop looking at ourselves and others as us and them, and start being more inclusive. We need to approach situations from a perspective that we really are more alike than we are dissimilar.”
The sense of unity is evident from the opening track – the churning, high-energy “Spirit I Am,” a song whose verses ask some of the most basic human questions, and whose refrain offers resounding answers. The immediate followup track, “Promised Land,” evokes the ghosts of delta bluesmen long past with a lament for life’s trials and the hope for better circumstances in the next life.
The title track is one of Bibb’s favorites. “The message here is very much my message,” he says. “It has a nice rootsy feeling, but it also has a pop sensibility to it. I’ve always wanted to make popular, radio-friendly music that has a rootsy depth to it at the same time.”
“If Our Hearts Ain’t in It” is a gospel-flavored ballad that features emotional slide guitar accents courtesy of Bonnie Raitt. As the title suggests, the track makes the case that gestures of kindness and forgiveness are pointless unless they come from the right place in the heart.
In the home stretch, Ruthie Foster joins Bibb in “Conversation,” a sleepy, down-home blues duet that showcases not only two fine individual voices but the magic that results when the two merge. “Stayed on Freedom,” the rousing and uptempo closer, celebrates the good that comes when people remain focused every day on the positive and more harmonious aspects of the human condition.
“Some of the issues I address in Get Onboard are in your face all the time in one form or another, every time you turn on a TV or a radio,” says Bibb. “Musicians are really in a powerful position, because music really cuts through a lot of stuff that political rhetoric doesn’t. If you can put some depth into the songs, then you have an interesting way of influencing popular culture that could be lasting and beneficial. That’s the kind of mission that I embrace. I think of myself as more than just an entertainer. I like to think I’m a communicator of ideas.”