Vancouver singer/songwriter Geoff Gibbons new single, ‘Rollin’ Free’, embodies the classic 70s Americana/soft rock blend that dominated the airwaves once upon a time. It’s smooth and breezy, though strikingly bland lyrically, yet for anyone partial to this subset of classic rock, the tune is too catchy not to love regardless. The opening mix of twinkly steel-string guitars and jazzy major seventh chords instantly brings America (the band) to mind. Music that was designed to be listened on relaxing, sunny drives in a classic car, as per the quintessential 70s dream.
Geoff’s words cement the idea with all the corny lines you somehow find yourself indulging in. It’s all about the sun shining on open highways, bottom dollars, unpaid dues, pseudo-romantic associations with cars, and of course, rollin’ free, man. Tom Petty’s legacy shows no signs of fading. Still, Geoff’s sense of melody and fastidious songwriting skills are unironically something to be respected. The chorus is a belter and is more than worthy of a stadium of fans singing it right back at him.
The lead tones pack enough spring and twang to please anyone amenable to classic guitar work. It’s well-trodden ground, so there’s nothing strikingly original here, but the band plays worthy homage to the plethora of acts that dominated the radio in decades previous. His voice has a bit of that husky scratchiness of other ‘highway rockers’ like Springsteen, but it avoids cringeworthy oversaturation; Geoff’s sounds like he’s simply too chilled and delighted with life to play the cowboy persona.
Being realistic though, Geoff might be a hard sell on this side of the Atlantic. Americana is, after all, a hard sell beyond its namesake’s borders, but if you unabashedly love your Toto as much as Eddie Money, you’ll feel right at home.