ANDREW HIBBARD – Under the Knife (own label)

Under The KnifeSince releasing his debut record at just 17, the self-taught, harp-blowing, guitar-picking Cincinnati troubadour, Andrew Hibbard, has been all over the United States, opening for acts like Ralph Stanley and Gill Landry and sharing festival billings alongside the likes of Willie Nelson, Old Crow Medicine Show and Sturgill Simpson. Now at 23, Under the Knife, is his second studio album and, while, it is made up of original works, there are noteworthy homages to the musical soundscapes of yesteryear.

Numbers like ‘Go All Night’ and ‘Tennessee Sugar’ have strong honkytonk and bluesy tendencies; ‘It’s All Over Now’ is deeply immersed in the folk process; ‘Murder Me’ dips into ragtime music and ‘Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Sally’ feels like something that could have walked straight out of Sam Phillips’ Sun Studios 60 something years ago. ‘Don’t Tell Me’ is straight forward, but cuttingly honest; echoing the heart-breaking lyricism of Hank Williams and reminiscent of Jimmie Rodgers in its delivery: “If you’ve fallen for someone new” bemoans Hibbard “Don’t tell me darling, I don’t want to know…”

It is ‘Picture in a Frame’, which steals the show. It is a piece which reflects and mourns a past relationship through the relics of that time and place: “Since you went away, I took our picture down/ and I know its nothing to do with me, but now we’re just a picture in a frame”. Like a lot of things on this album, it is sweet and bittersweet and heart-warming and heart wrenching all at the same time.

I’m not even going to pretend that I’m not a huge fan of what this guy does, but I think you’ll like him too, so my advice is this: do what you have to do to hear this guy. Go to a gig, buy his records, Spotify him, Google him, deliver his mail…just find a way to make it happen. You won’t regret it.

Christopher James Sheridan

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‘Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Sally’ – live: