James Robert Kibby is a singer/songwriter from Buffalo, NY who explains on his Bandcamp page that he recorded his album One Man Garage Band with Garageband app on his Apple iPhone SE. As someone who grew up making music in studios with tons of analog gear I have conflicting emotions about this.
I’m glad musicians are able to make demos with their phones but I also hate the sound quality. There is no separation with the music and there are essential missing frequencies that are just the beginning of the issues anyone who knows anything about engineering can spot within seconds.
I mention this because One Man Garage Band is an album that has some great songs but is also held back by the production quality. Kibby’s talent is undeniable on this album. He is a good songwriter but man it would have been nice to hear these songs recorded properly by a halfway decent studio.
He plays pretty straightforward ’60s style folk music along with what you might call Appalachian music. Kibby plays guitar, banjo and some percussion. I’m a sucker for banjo and I did enjoy his style quite a bit. He opens with “Old John Henry” which is a fun, catchy song. It’s about as organic sounding as you can get and feels as natural as the rolling meadows and eastern plains.
A song like “Clouds For Sale” veers closer to Dylan's style type folk. Bohemian vibes spew from the song and even comes with a harmonica. He goes back to the hills of the Appalachian mountains with “She’s Gone” but he doesn't forget his city roots. As the album progresses “Up On A Hill” and the more more melancholy closer ”Record” were the highlights.
My obvious advice to Kibby is to figure out a way to improve the recording quality. In my twenty- plus-years of studio experience I think analog is best medium. He talks about folk being raw and unpolished. If he wants to capture that recording to tape that is the way to go.
I definitely preferred some songs over others and thought the first half of the album was especially strong. Kibby shows some potential and talent and I think he has a promising future ahead of him.
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