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Review: Vance Gilbert,‘The Mother of Trouble’

Vance Gilbert is folk. He’s also country, bluegrass, jazz, and so, so much more. His new album, “The Mother of Trouble” spans decades of musical influence, earned from years spent in the American folk scene, including the Cabot Arts and Music Festival, where he’ll be performing on July 29. 

Gilbert has been around a long time. His first album was released nearly 30 years ago, with plenty of time performing before that. His longevity is a testament to his creativity, and his newest album shows clearly that even after 30 years, he hasn’t slowed down one bit. 

Vance Gilbert has range, and that’s apparent on “The Mother of Trouble.” He draws from a myriad of influences on this album, blending and fusing them into some mysterious mixture that just made me want to keep listening. The title track opens the album with a folk-rock slow burn that almost sounds like it could fit right in with a Grateful Dead set. As the album progresses, Gilbert expands his scope, transitioning into romantic folk country jams, like “One or Two of These Things,” to big-band-inspired piece called “Bad For Me,” to introspective folk tunes like “Black Rochelle,” and soulful piano ballads like “I Hope He’s the One this Time.” 

Two tracks really caught my eye — or, my ear, rather: “A Room Somewhere” feels like a familiar jazz slow dance number but fused with just enough country magic to make it pop. Joe K. Walsh’s mandolin here is phenomenal (as it is across the board), and the lyrics are full of a very special kind of nostalgia. 

“(They Long to Be) Close to You” is the second stand out, and possibly my favorite track on the album. The song feels almost like it was sent straight from the ‘60s, but with some modern pizzazz thrown on top. There’s a very danceable beat, and a great organ solo at the tail end. If any of the songs off this album are making one of my playlists, this is it. 

Overall, “The Mother of Trouble” stands out. Gilbert pools his experiences and influences to create a diverse and interesting body of work, with many impressive tracks. While he’s been an East Coast staple for years, his music feels right at home in Vermont.