Jon Bibbs - Ode to Old Flames (2012)

Jon Bibbs
Jon Bibbs Ode to Old Flames.jpg
Click on CD cover
to listen or purchase

Some people make music that falls into a listener’s musical wheelhouse. When that takes place – when there is convergence between an artist’s musical vision and the listener’s musical taste – the only thing that stands in the way of auditory bliss is execution. The only thing the listener has to worry about is whether these songs are any good.

With Jon Bibbs’ Ode to Old Flames, the Virginia based musician, singer, producer, composer and educator made a record that has all of the elements that I like in my music – wonderful music, rich instrumentation, diverse selections that featuring rock, hip-hop, gospel influenced R&B, funk, blues and jazz. The record is also relatively short, eight tracks clocking at a little more than 38 minutes, even with the multi-layered and experimental “Red (Revisited)” coming in at 9:35.

Some people make music that falls into a listener’s musical wheelhouse. When that takes place – when there is convergence between an artist’s musical vision and the listener’s musical taste – the only thing that stands in the way of auditory bliss is execution. The only thing the listener has to worry about is whether these songs are any good.

With Jon Bibbs’ Ode to Old Flames, the Virginia based musician, singer, producer, composer and educator made a record that has all of the elements that I like in my music – wonderful music, rich instrumentation, diverse selections that featuring rock, hip-hop, gospel influenced R&B, funk, blues and jazz. The record is also relatively short, eight tracks clocking at a little more than 38 minutes, even with the multi-layered and experimental “Red (Revisited)” coming in at 9:35.

Bibbs’ execution on Old to Old Flames is on point. His pick of the classic “Spell on You,” the only remake on the record, speaks highly of Bibbs’ willingness to select an underused cut and to put some thought into how the tune is arranged. Bibbs opts for a lush arrangement that augments a slow and swinging melody with features strings and some Memphis style guitar solo work by Brandon Jarod.

“My Old Flame” is a homage to the kind of power rock love song that was all over Top 40 radio in the 1980s. Vocally, Bibbs proves to be an excellent translator of the up-tempo power rock ballad in a song that tells the story of a man who can’t stop thinking about that one girl.

Bibbs pairs off with female vocalists on two duets. “Gone” is a mid-tempo retro soul cut featuring indie soul’s go-to female duet partner – Conya Doss. The track features a bass line that might remind some listeners of something from the Hi Records library. “Follow My Heart” brings Bibbs together with Alison Carney on a bit a brassy soul sporting a catchy hook. The track has the feel of a lost gem from the Motown vaults.

Yet, the highest of a series of very high points may very well be the deep funk ballad “Something to Talk About” and the magisterial “Red (Revisted).” The former, which finds Bibbs trying to convince his girl to take their private affair public, hits the listener in the face with a pumping bass line and an old school Hammond organ sound. The latter is a dreamy number with ephemeral lyrics that Bibbs delivers in a manner that has the feel of a brother making it up as he goes along. In short, it sounds authentic. The jazz-infused arrangement floats airily before the tempo changes and takes on more of a hip-hop vibe to accommodate a spoken word segment by Hamza Atoi.

Ode to Old Flames harkens back to a time when vinyl forced artists to make the most of the limited amount of time they had to make a good musical impression. Bibbs uses less time than many of his contemporaries, but he also manages to say a whole lot more. Highly Recommended

By Howard Dukes

 

Leave a comment!