Free and legal MP3: William F. Gibbs (dreamy yet incisive piano ballad)

“Operate” – William F. Gibbs

He’s got a name like a character actor or a middle school principal, but he’s got the dreamy voice of a romantic troubadour, a guy who’s seen enough to abandon his dreams but hangs onto them anyway.

A steady, unhurried piano ballad with an immediately engaging melody, “Operate” comes alive via a combination of Gibbs’ singing (don’t miss the phased harmonies at 1:47) and some lovely, understated guitar work. From the outset, an acoustic guitar plays in tandem with the piano, but often just at the edges of awareness; sometimes you can hear fingers moving along strings more prominently than the actual notes, which adds to an interesting sort of tension the song sustains between movement and languidness. Best of all are the dreamy slide guitar licks that get a little showcase from 1:06 through 1:32, returning in only the most whispery way through the rest of the song.

“Operate” is a track from My Fellow Sophisticates, Gibbs’ debut CD, released earlier this month on Old Man Records.