Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Steve Tibbetts: Life Of (ECM)

Review of the guitarist's latest moody acoustic offering

JazzTimes may earn a small commission if you buy something using one of the retail links in our articles. JazzTimes does not accept money for any editorial recommendations. Read more about our policy here. Thanks for supporting JazzTimes.
Cover of Steve Tibbetts album Life Of
Cover of Steve Tibbetts album Life Of

The 13 tracks on guitarist Steve Tibbetts’ Life Of are all in the same key (D minor), or very close to it. They are all of the same texture and timbre (acoustic guitar, with a cello that creates eerie drones and occasional pianistic and percussive accents). They are all of the same character and shape (slow, gentle, moody). They all exhibit the same cavernous echo and ambience. Nevertheless, the album is exquisite.

Given the above traits, it also seems like background music at first. To listen to it as such, however, would be to miss out on its remarkable spectrum of nuances. Upon close listen, Life Of contains delicate fingerpicked rolls (“Bloodwork”) that give way to sitar-like phrasings and note bends (“Life of Emily”) on the path to light folksy musings underscored by wisps of Michelle Kinney’s cello, then a sudden rise of Marc Anderson’s thrumming percussion and Tibbetts’ overdubbed piano strains (“Life of Mir”). Farther along are light cartwheeling figures on guitar and piano (“Life of Joel”). Taken as a single long work, it’s a study in subtle development.

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.
Originally Published