Drew Gibson wasn’t thinking about making a new album after his father Edmund Gibson died on July 4, 2012 – songwriting was only there to help him find balance. But then he discovered something that led him to create 1532.
“When my father passed away, I wasn’t thinking about an album at that time. I wasn’t thinking about an album before he was sick or even after he was sick,” Gibson said. “And then for the next six or seven months after he died I knew that I wanted to write something, that’s kind of my outlet…so I worked on a song, trying to get the lyrics right, trying to get the music right.”
While he was working on that song, which became “When the Vinyl Scrapes,” Gibson found an old metal security deposit box, which he said seemed out of place among his father’s belongings. Inside the box there were old photographs and letters from Gibson’s uncle, Jack, who fought and died in World War II.
But before Jack went off to train in Miami, he registered “1532” on his license plate as an homage to his family. Jack actually wanted to put 1505, his family’s address, on the license plate, but the number was taken, so he took 1532, since adding three and two equals five.
After Jack was killed in Italy, in a vehicle accident, his family grieved and honored his life by putting the license plate on his father John’s car. After John died his wife Kathryn began using the license plate and the tradition was carried on by Drew’s father after Kathryn died. Drew’s mother Beattie-Jane, the namesake to the album’s first track, began using the 1532 license plate after Edmund passed away.
“It’s just taken on a greater meaning each time it gets passed on,” Drew said. “And every time I think of that number, I think about my family, that’s what it means to me.”
Discovering those memories from past generations in that metal box helped Gibson write a song that expressed how he was feeling after his father’s passing. It also allowed him to record his family’s history on 1532, which he released with Cragmont Records earlier this week.
The album, which Gibson dedicated to his father, is somber, celebratory, and, at times, both. Wisdom, regret, worry and consolation are woven throughout the album’s lyrical content, with songs inspired by the letters Gibson found and other family stories.
“I just started picking up stories and doing research and learning about people in my family – learning about my dad’s side of the family, learning about my mom’s side of the family – and writing songs,” Gibson said.
“Some of the songs deal with specific events and…each song kind of tangentially may touch on a line here or there loss and losing my father and how I feel, but the whole process, from that first song I wrote about losing my dad to the last song I finished on the record, helped me find that balance I was searching for.”
Gibson is having an album release show at IOTA Club & Cafe in Arlington this Friday, Feb. 6. Bassist Jon Nazdin, dummer Robbie Magruder and pedal steel guitarist Dave Hadley will back Gibson as he plays tracks from 1532.
“A lot of people of have said they’ve found something in there that has touched them in their life,” Gibson said. “The album has a lot to do with my family and is dedicated to my father…and a lot of people going through those things now have either texted me or e-mailed me and said ‘A lot of these things ring true for me in my life.’
• For more information about Drew Gibson, visit drew-gibson.com.