Harder Than Hammered Hell
Wanamaker Recording Company 4
Better than a wrecking ball as Otis goes electric
If this was a just world the likes of me wouldn’t be allowed to review Otis Gibbs records as it should be the domain of poets and novelists who would discuss the brilliance of the man’s work in words that flow like vintage wine; but it’s not a just world and it is left to me to tell you how great HARDER THAN HAMMERED HELL is.
Otis writes blue collar songs and looks like a cross between Casey Jones and the fourth ZZ Top member but he has a way with words that is comparable with Springsteen, Dylan and John Cash and any host of great wordsmiths before them.
This is his sixth album and just might be the one that transfers him from bars and clubs to Theatres and beyond.
From the opening chords of Never Enough to the fade on Blues for Mackenzie Gibbs metaphorically hits nails on the head with the power of Thor and his messages become lodged firmly in the listeners head for posterity.
Broke and Restless is a story about a man beaten down by the system but who still has a survival spirit and won’t let them grind him into the earth. Bruce can’t write songs like this any more.
The Land of Maybe is a portrait of Americana that I didn’t think could be painted in words; but Otis has managed it at ease.
Big Whiskers is a fun song straight out of the Cash archives without actually sounding like any of the great man’s songs and probably the most radio friendly track on the disc.
The ‘piece de resistance’ and possibly Gibb’s best ever song is Detroit Steel which features his growling vocal like we’ve never heard it before and some mighty fine twangy guitar from Thomm Jutz on a really cool driving song that has a side-bar pseudo political message in the trunk.
That’s it; if you like the real deal American folk with a rusty edge, this will be your album of the year. If it isn’t; it should be.