Carlisle, Pennsylvania’s Daughn Gibson may have spent much of the last decade drumming for one of the most criminally underrated bands in recent memory, but it’s a different past life that most obviously informs his second solo album Me Moan. When he wasn’t perched on a stool with stoner rockers Pearls & Brass, Gibson earned his money as a long-distance truck driver, rolling back and forth across the highways and back-routes of the American heartland, eating in roadside diners and sleeping in his cab; an existence that no doubt involved much varied listening material and a whole host of weird and wonderful friends and strangers encountered along the way. Both play a big part in Gibson’s music, which here finds the sparse, sample-born gothic Americana of last year’s excellent All Hell fleshed out by a live band including players from post-rockers Brokeback and metal titans Baroness. Songs are inhabited by characters real, imagined or somewhere in between, driven by stories and snatches of conversations overheard in out-of-town bars and lay-bys or in dreams: outlaws and idiots, cowboys and con-men, lotharios and lawmen (and the state trooper’s daughter) are brought to life with a storyteller’s eye for detail and imbued with soul by Gibson’s cavernous baritone croon. Musically, Me Moan flits from rootsy country and blues to mutant electronica like someone scrolling through the frequency band of an old radio: the former still dominate, with twanging guitars and weeping pedal-steel scattered liberally across the record and rollicking rodeo rockers like “Kissin’ On The Blacktop” and “The Sound Of Law”, but with traces of minimal techno and electro in the beats and quirky arrangements that take in everything from loping dub and hip hop grooves to synthesised bagpipes (“Mad Ocean”), the combination of melancholy melodies and upbeat if off-kilter production often recalls the surrealist pop of Damon Albarn’s Gorillaz project. In fact, “surreal” describes a lot of Me Moan quite well: like hearing Climate Of Hunter-era Scott Walker singing the sugary theme song from some lost ’80s Brat Pack movie, or walking into a line-dancing bar and seeing the crowd clicking their heels to Andy Stott, it’s often disorientating, but somehow it all makes perfect sense (don’t believe it? Check “Franco” or “The Pisgee Nest”, then come see me). An old soul with a keen grasp of new technology, with a voice – and a musical style – as dark and sticky as the tarmac that covers the roads he used to roll up and down, Gibson might be just the person to do for the blues what James Blake has done for R&B: drag it kicking and screaming into the here and now.
Me Moan is out July 9 via Sub Pop; listen below.