Jason Gibson hails from Castle Espie in Northern Ireland and his project and band Linebacker Dirge have been producing music over the last ten years. Current members are Gibson on guitars and voice accompanied by Ian McHugh on vocals and guitar. Illustrious former members have included Colm Laverty (bass), James Bruce (percussion), Aidan Kelly (violin), Joshua Burnside (banjo/voice), Mike McMurray (percussion), James Pollock (percussion) and Harry Fitch (guitars).
The Worried Well is the bands latest EP, a stripped back affair often relying on stark vocals and low-fi guitar. The first track Analgeasia starts as the EP means to go on: Gibsons’s vocals are sometimes dreamy but transcend into anger, emotionally crippled lines fire out over guitar harmonies with progressive aesthetics. ‘You won’t feel half as much as you did last year, it is all your fault’ is uttered with contempt in contrast to the finger-picked acoustic that idles along through the song.
‘Life By Proxy’, with the lyrics ‘Everyone I know has been reduced to a zero’: it’s melancholy but again the guitars offer up contrast to the darkness, a quickly-strummed riff with math rock lead offers relief. ‘Livia’ begins with picked acoustic guitar, there’s a folk rock feel to this. It’s a heartfelt rendition from Gibson’s vocals. There is a lot of space to breathe in this song, the lack of percussion leaves it open, and often gives it a dreamlike quality, with the song building gently to a crashing end with the ‘It’s all a big nothing’ vocals emotionally rendered.
‘Tending To’ sees some nice vocal harmonies that lift the vocals from the stark accompaniment. These vocal harmonies could have been employed in the previous songs as they broaden the lo-fi style of the guitars that in places verge on sounding like a demo. ‘Motion Parallax’ kicks off nicely with a very traditional country feel to it, I can’t help but compare Gibson’s vocals to that of an angry Gary Lightbody, and that can be a compliment given the success of Snow Patrol.
The Worried Well offers a stripped down often dark, uncomfortable, experience, but there are some uplifting points; ‘Motion Parallax’ ends with a kick and there are splashes of originality throughout the EP that make it worth coming back to for a second listen. Neil Carey, GiggingNI.com