Arizona singer-songwriter Austin Gibbs likes Ryan Adams, and listening to his music, it kind of shows. Gibbs has released EPs over the past few years, both under his name and as Austin Gibbs and The States, and now, on his own, finally released his full-length debut, Charlie. The 8-song album contains 6 new songs, a re-recorded version of a song off his 1986 EP, and a new version of a song from his Austin Gibbs and The States days.
The most low-key songs bookend this album. The album starts off with the title track, “Charlie,” a song that starts off as just Gibbs and an acoustic guitar, ends with a bellowing, full band backed, “This one’s for you.” The slow, emotional, almost spoken story-telling of the first couple minutes of the song might be a bit misleading for what the rest of the album has in store, but it’s the right place on the album for the song. And it’s easily one of the best tracks on an album with no room for filler.
In between, the album contains some fun, summer songs I can imagine turning up loud on my imaginary car stereo. “La La La” packs a sing-along chorus into one of those storytelling sort of songs that my grandmother complains my generation lacks (but I’m not sure I necessarily agree with her assessment.) She probably wouldn’t approve of the debaucherous nature of this song, with lyrics like “She said, ‘I heard that you were wild.’ Girl, I’ll, I’ll take you to the zoo.” Fortunately, silliness (or I suppose it’s clever, depending on how you look at it) doesn’t oversaturate these songs making you want to gag. Instead, they provide a nice occasional laugh.
Gibbs’ rougher vocals shine on “Sierra The Serial Killer,” a four-minute song telling the tale of a woman recounting the murders she’d committed over the previous two decades. I don’t want to be happy listening to a song with a chorus with the words “serial killer” but something about this song makes me forget about how cold-blooded Sierra sounds, and instead has me tapping my feet, enjoying the story replete with verses that end in rhymes.
For those familiar with older versions of “Wolf Mountain,” the newer version released a few weeks ago, sounds pretty different, and fits in with the faster songs on the album better than the original. The rerecorded “I Like The Ones” features more prominent instrumentation, especially the clapping, and is easily one of my favorite tracks on the album, but I’m partial to hand claps, catchy choruses, and gang-like vocals, and this song has all of those elements.