Jon GStoryteller cover 90Jon Gibson returns as strong as ever, delivering funk and blue-eyed soul on The Storyteller....

The Storyteller
Jon Gibson
Label: Soul Scan Records
Time: 12 tracks / 48:13 minutes

The term 'blue-eyed soul' gets tossed around a lot – to be blunt, it usually means, 'here's a white guy that sings with the soul, funk, energy, and phrasing of a black guy.'
Blunt enough?
There really isn't much room for political correctness in this category - and vocal profiling has always gone in a positive direction, anyway. Like a long string of Biblical begats, Motown's legacy to suburban pop gave us The Righteous Brothers, The Young Rascals, Delaney and Bonnie, and other 'blue-eyed soulsters.' In the Contemporary Christian Music market there was Bryan Duncan, Bob Carlisle, and a young man named Jon Gibson, who uncannily channeled both Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder on the 1983 release, Standing On The One.

Recording intermittantly through the nineties, and releasing his Soulful Hymns project in 2002, the soulful Californian has kept a lower profile for the last decade or so. Now, to the delight of his many fans, Gibson returns with The Storyteller – a fresh batch of new songs infused with all of the passion, funk and soul that typifies Gibson at his best.

Thanks to both his ability to create a comfortable groove and his captivating vocal delivery, Gibson has a gift of being able to write songs that carry a spiritual message yet sound matter-of-fact. If there's a theme running through these lyrics it's that God is for the underdog – a message universally appealing and easy to resonate with. Gibson sings, from the album's title track, "Mmm, sitting around, wondering why the world's passed us by, yeah. Is it the way it's supposed to be or a lie?"

Gibson's production is clean and rich, free of gimmicks and effects. Playing most of the instruments on most tracks (drums, percussion, bass, guitars, pianos, organ, synthesizers, as well as vocals), Gibson still manages to produce a very 'live' feeling in the performances. Steve Merrick (drums, bass guitar, pianos, organ, synthesizers & vocals), and Bart Broadnax (bass guitar) help round out the sound on various tracks, bringing light funky grooves and adding to some jazzy little jams – especially the piano work on the infectious "So Let it Rain," and the Gospel-groove of "We Serve a Mighty God." Gibson gives us some sweet, funky guitar lines on "Always Have Enough."

"I Am Free" features Gibson's vocal accompanied by a grand piano while "Ready Gone" is a horn-heavy rave with Gibson shouting out a James Brown-like, "Hit me!" to start things off.

The beautiful ballad, "Anymore," is a standard worthy of Stevie Wonder himself – with beautiful chord progressions and a strong, memorable melody, the words are inspiring and comforting: "Cast all your cares and your worries to the One who knows all the ways of your heart. Answer the wind, when she begins, you will say "Life can't hold me anymore." "

Gibson's vocals are a pleasure throughout the album – his voice is simply wonderful to listen to: a soulful instrument with a warm and easy tone, yet capable of producing enough of a rough edge to remind you that there's a good knowledge of rock behind the funky riffing. The brief scatting on "Ready Gone" is a delight, as is the interplay with Veronica Petrucci (Angelo and Veronica), who shows that she's no slouch in the blue-eyed soul department herself, on "I Want I Need."

It's been a long time coming, but The Storyteller is worth the wait – and for Jon Gibson fans, "So Let it Rain," "Ready Gone," "Anymore," and "We Serve a Mighty God" are worth the price of admission all on their own.

In the title track, Gibson sings, " Have I told my story well? Only time will tell...." In this case at least, Gibson tells his story very well, indeed.
The Storyteller is available through Jon's website, Amazon, and CD Baby.

- Bert Saraco


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