Vance Gilbert,
Angels, Castles, Covers
(Disismye, 2006)

On this disc, veteran folkie Vance Gilbert goes back to his roots as a jazz and pop singer, recording an album of covers. Yes, almost everyone is doing cover CDs recently but Gilbert does it a touch differently -- he reinterprets the songs and makes them his own. When he does Todd Rundgren's "It Wouldn't Have Made Any Difference," you recognize the song but feel as though you haven't heard it before; Gilbert makes it new and he makes it his own.

His purpose is not to make these songs over, though. His stated goal is to pay tribute to the artists and the songs that influenced and inspired him, turning him into the singer that he is. It's a varied bunch -- Ashford and Simpson, Al Green, Tony Joe White, Sam Cooke, Joni Mitchell, Jimi Hendrix and Shawn Colvin -- yet all of them fit into Gilbert's style.

And that, I believe, is the key to the album's success. Instead of trying to replicate the style and tone of the originals, he adapts them to his own folk style. "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing," for instance, is a duet with Lori McKenna that features a mandolin solo, while Al Green's "I'm So Tired of Being Alone" uses a glockenspiel, an accordion and the mandolin. Sam Cooke's anthemic "A Change is Gonna Come" is done with just Gilbert's acoustic guitar for accompaniment.

Plainly, he has thought out his approach to these songs.

There is, of course, one more thing that needs to be mentioned when discussing this CD and that, of course, is Vance Gilbert's voice. He possesses a fluid tenor that wraps itself around a lyric the way chocolate covers caramel. To put it plainly, the man can sing anything. Couple his voice with the right material and you've got a package that can't be beat.

This is the right material. The CD can't be beat.

by Michael Scott Cain
17 February 2007

[ visit the artist's website ]

Buy it from