Migration Blues

In the liner notes to this, his 30th recording, Eric Bibb writes, “Whether you’re looking at a former sharecropper, hitchhiking from Clarksdale to Chicago in 1923, or an orphan from Aleppo, in a boat full of refugees in 2016—it’s migration blues.” Except for Bob Dylan’s “Masters of War,” a scathing indictment of the munitions barons, and Woody Guthrie’s always timely “This Land Is Your Land,” the remaining 13 compositions on Migration Blues are Bibb’s and feature the folksinging guitarist in a mostly trio setting. His smooth vocals belie the fervor that underlies songs like “Refugee Moan” (“If there’s a road to a peaceful country/Lord, make that highway my way/to the Promised Land”) and “Prayin’ for Shore,” which he dedicates to the thousands of refugees who have drowned attempting to reach land in unseaworthy boats. It’s not all doom and gloom, however. On “Brotherly Love,” Bibb sings about believing that “we can change/and before it’s too late, replace fear and hate with brotherly love.” Let’s all hope he’s right.