Live Review

Daughn Gibson, Birthdays, London

Tonight, Daughn Gibson is something special indeed.

Fusing the sounds of Johnny Cash and Elvis with dark, brooding electronica, Pennsylvania’s Daughn Gibson has created the kind of sound that you’d expect to encounter on Satan’s gym mix. Boasting a baritone croon that you’d assume to grace the airwaves of rural New Mexico, vocally at least, Gibson sounds like he’s been plucked from 1940s stock of Stetson hats and alligator hide boots. All this causes a double take when the sordid baselines and throbbing swells evidenced on set highlight ‘Looking Back On 99’ and much of the material from debut album ‘All Hell’ as Gibson struts on the spot, cool as you like.

There’s an odd contradiction about Daughn Gibson. On one hand he’s as machismo as it comes, a grizzled 6’5” hulk; on the other he has a softness and a mournfulness that punches right in the gut. ‘Do you keep the notes I write?’ he croons wistfully at one point as he stares into the middle distance.

Perfectly at home in a darkened room such as tonight’s venue, Gibson’s sound features triggered scratchy country and folk samples; distorted, pushed and pulled with abandon. Live this is augmented with a more traditional band setup with the rootsy addition of a pedal steel guitar for tracks off latest album ‘Me Moan’. It’s a cathartic fusion which works, and tracks that on record sound panoramic are rendered pummelling with a punky edge.

It’s not all dark stuff though; occasionally Gibson winds in the bleak stuff to skilfully give us some compare and contrast. ‘In The Beginning’ perfectly encapsulates this, a triumphant and simple sampled piano refrain over punchy drums. Listen to the words however and you’ll see that trademark bleakness creep back in, rubbing up against the lighter sounds with a delightful friction: ‘You’ve gotta start right back where you are, in the beginning’, he intones with the solemnity of a trucker priest as sampled soprano voices whirl around the room.

Tonight, Daughn Gibson is something special indeed. He might not be in some far off dust bowl as he visits our island shores, but look in his eyes and he’s a world away, gunning it down some sun-parched highway, giving it All Hell.

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