Noise 

Jibran
Finish the Story
Fro Studio Productions

After almost four years of open-mic-night performances at the Great Northern, Jibran—Whitefish’s answer to David Gray—has released his debut album, Finish the Story. Jibran is otherwise known as “the Fro” due to his enormous gnarled locks (his website invites visitors to “Enter the Fro”). For this maiden release, Jibran has produced—in his own Whitefish studio—12 originals likely to find welcome on the coffeehouse circuit.

At its best, Jibran’s guitar picking twists and turns with the somber delicacy of a melancholic rock opera about Mother Nature, as on the album’s one instrumental track, “The Shadow.” Lyrically, Jibran has a solid-as-oak tenor, although his delivery can be too breathy for its own good (as on the opening track, “The Gunslinger”). And those lyrics, while obviously heartfelt, are occasionally hard to distinguish from the guy-in-a-dorm-room-singing-to-his-girlfriend genre.

Still, Finish the Story is full of promise. The title track, on which Jibran adds a French horn to the mix, delivers a fun acoustic bounce in the verse, followed by a lilting rock-a-bye chorus, a formula that makes all the Dave Matthews girls melt like Velveeta in the sunlight. (Mike Keefe-Feldman)

Jibran will play free shows at Liquid Planet in Missoula at 8 p.m. on Fri., June 11, and at the Raven Pub in Woods Bay at 8:30 p.m. on Sat., June 19.

Kris Delmhorst
Songs For A Hurricane
Signature Sounds

More contemporary folk Americana, female division, from Massachusetts this time, and if that summation seems dismissive, well, you listen to this undifferentiatedly inoffensive dose of bittersweetness and see if it does anything more than pass the dishwashing time pleasantly for ya. It doesn’t help that the CD is stacked at the top with two semi-promising tunes—“Waiting under the Waves” and “East of the Mountains”—before descending into the glacially paced me-and-my-recent-painful-relationship/learning experience territory for which so much contemporary “folk” music is so widely and rightly reviled.

Delmhorst has a pretty enough, if limited, voice; the arrangements are professionally soothing and unobtrusive; and in the course of 13 songs, she manages to pull off a few nice lines and no real boners, which is something. But what’s interesting about truly interesting singer-songwriters is trying to keep up with their flights of fancy, and Delmhorst’s slick wall of saccharine offers no handholds for climbers. No real pinnacles, either. So some lover “made mincemeat of [her] pride.” Self-esteem’s tough, you know; not everyone deserves it.

Will you dig Kris Delmhorst? There are already two Indigo Girls—how bad is your need for a third? (Brad Tyer)

Kris Delmhorst plays the Crystal Theater at 8 p.m. on Thurs., June 10. Tickets are $12/door or $10/advance.

Jeffrey Foucault
Miles from the Lighting
Acoustic Roots

So much acoustic singer-songwriter stuff is…well…wussy. There’s not necessarily anything wrong with that. It’s just that most up-and-coming singer-songwriters these days would seem to be more fitting openers for James Taylor than for Steve Earle, and, as far as this writer is concerned, Steve Earle trumps James Taylor any day.

With all this in mind, Jeffrey Foucault is a breath of fresh air, or fresh cow pasture, as his Wisco roots would have it. On Miles from the Lightning, Foucault proves that the acoustic singer-songwriter genre can be not just beautiful, but also manly. Alongside his flawlessly elegant finger-picking, Foucault’s baritone is at once subtle—almost like he’s singing a series of cast-aside thoughts that came to him just at that very moment—and strong, with just enough gravel to put it at home in honky-tonks as well as coffee shops.

If there is a problem with Miles from the Lightning, it’s that we never get to hear Foucault belt out all that his voice is clearly capable of. It’s still a winning album, but it might have been perfect had Foucault decided to get a bit closer to that lightning on a few tracks. (Mike Keefe-Feldman)

Jeffrey Foucault will open the show for Kris Delmhorst at the Crystal Theater at 8 p.m. on Thurs., June 10. Tickets are $12/door or $10/advance.

Greg Brown
Honey in the Lions Head
Trailer Records

If you went to Greg Brown’s last concert in Missoula, you probably don’t need convincing that the guy’s a legend. His presence alone is enough to sit you straight up, and when he growls and howls, you hear the heart of American music ringing loud like a dinner bell.

His new album’s title comes from the Bible, and is also a line in the song “Samson,” a searing tune that sounds like a train steaming down the tracks. As it blows by, the conductor pulls the horn and warns, “If I had my way, I’d tear the whole building down.”

Much of Honey is old folk traditionals, simple little stories that have been passed down for generations, and all seem to find a fitting home in Brown’s grizzly-bear growl. His daughter, Pieta, adds deep, country-driven harmonies to many of the songs. Simple, front-porch fiddle-guitar-banjoin’ at its best—and just in time for summer, too!

With little fanfare, Greg Brown is keeping an American musical tradition alive, and doing it with all the nobility, humor and simple, down-to-earth passion of a humble boy from Iowa. (David Nolt)

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