Otis Gibbs – Harder Than Hammered Hell     6/10


HARDER THAN hammered hell soil is almost impossible to plant through… and Gibbs’ metaphor for these hard times on a periodically meandering album. While Springsteen rouses us to raise fists in protest at what is (Wrecking Ball), which feels good at the time, that isn’t as practical as a good hard look at what could be.

Just because life can be harsh doesn’t mean we have to give up, says Gibbs, using the language of recovery to warn against the easy solace of booze, drugs and anger. [He declined an interview to talk about this.]

Gibbs has proudly planted trees in tough conditions and prefers to speak directly to his fans to bypass critics’ “filters” and the inevitable comparisons to the likes of Steve Earle, Billy Bragg and Woody Guthrie. So here is the link to his website.  (Check out where he goes back to see what happened to the 5,000th tree he planted).