Dave Gibb
DAVE GIBB - Blood & Flame

When he brought out ‘Speed of the Plough’ his third album in 2003, I was privileged to review it. It is fair to say that my review was a mixed one: although there were lots of plusses, I also had a few misgivings.

So it was that I was especially interested in getting a review copy of this, his fourth album. I wanted to see whether my misgivings had now disappeared, and whether I could give it a firm "thumbs up". After all, nothing pleases a CD reviewer more than to urge his readers to share his enthusiasm and buy an album.

And having played Dave's new album through a few times, I am delighted to say that I find it an improvement on his last one. That said however, I still have the odd reservation or two.

For those of you unfamiliar with the name, let me tell you that Dave Gibb is based in South West Scotland. He is a former winner of the Danny Award at Celtic Connections, and has built a reputation of sorts North of the Border with his repertoire of largely self-penned songs.

He comes across as a solid performer with a strong voice and a persuasive guitar style. He has a real authority when it comes to addressing a well-known traditional ballad: he can make them come up fresh. In the last album it was Burns's ‘Green Grow The Rashes’: in this one it is Sir Walter Scott's ‘Jock o'Hazledean’. The stand-out cuts on both CDs, by far.

Alas he does not persevere down the Traditional Ballad road. Instead, he again gives us his take on things by surrounding that ‘Laird of Abbotsford’ pearl with his self-penned songs. Songs incidentally that are competently written, and probably a notch better than his songs for album three. But songs that rarely really make it for me.   True there is a strong song of his near the end called ‘Into Paris With Me’: but I will perhaps better illustrate things by mentioning two more songs: his ‘Wallace’ and his ‘Dunkeld’. By a weird coincidence, I write this review less than a week after both climbing the Wallace Monument and visiting Dunkeld Cathedral. So it would surely not take a lot for the two songs to conjure up the images for me?

Well, the Wallace song never really made it past "go". Sure, it was a not- uninteresting take on what may have motivated William Wallace in his war against the English, but Dave's melody seemed uninspired and the lyric did not grab me.   But, note I said his own songs RARELY really make it for me. One that really did however was the Dunkeld Cathedral song: I was immediately back in that extraordinarily atmospheric place, and his dubbed "second voice" took on the hauntingly beautiful role of appearing to be the voice of History, talking through those ancient stones.

So those last-mentioned two songs best illustrate what a mixed bag this CD is. It is probably one for his true fans, but that said, it is not an album for anyone to turn their nose up at.

Dai Woosnam