Susan Gibson is a road warrior in the truest sense, in addition to being a dedicated singer, songwriter, and performing musician. The CMA award-winning songwriter (the Dixie Chicks took the Gibson-penned “Wide Open Spaces” to the top for four weeks) has been hitting the road consistently over the past 14 years, touring nationally in support of her own brand of Texas-Americana-folk music.
Gibson’s 2011 release, Tightrope, is both right at home with and a departure from her previous albums. Gibson and producer Gabe Rhodes are the sole musicians on Tightrope, which manages to be beautiful in its sparseness, easily accessible yet full of sophisticated notes for those who take a careful listen. A pencil eraser on a cigar box for percussion, a plucked grand piano string, or a dobro with a neck so warped it isn’t a dobro anymore; these elements create an intimate album that only two creative minds sitting in a studio together for days at a time can create.
With an engaging smile and graceful charm, Susan Herndon touches upon themes both universal and deeply personal, from longing and loneliness, to home, family, faded memories and hopeful dreams. And she connects with her listeners in a voice that conveys equal parts savory innocence and knowing savoir-faire.
Herndon draws from a reservoir of original material spanning five albums that have long found her sliding with ease from genre to genre. iTunes may soon run out of apt descriptors for Herndon’s music; her releases have been termed ‘blues,’ ‘country,’ ‘indie rock,’ ‘jazz’ and ‘pop.’ One moment she’s covering a Dylan classic in French with delicate fingerpicking on her guitar and the next may find her sitting at a keyboard paying homage to any number of fellow Oklahoma songsmiths, such as Woody Guthrie, Jimmy Webb, Leon Russell or J.J. Cale. All in an inspired style uniquely Herndonesque.