Worth the Wait: Gilbertson’s debut album arrives after long, art-infused delay

Emilee Wentland, photos by Andrea Paulseth

HE’S GOT THE LOOK. Guitarist and singer/songwriter Greg Gilbertson’s debut album “Surviving the Echoes” has been in the works for almost two years.
HE’S GOT THE LOOK. Guitarist and singer/songwriter Greg Gilbertson’s debut album “Surviving the Echoes” has been in the works for almost two years.

Being late isn’t ideal, but sometimes it takes longer than expected to reach the desired outcome. That’s what happened for Chippewa Valley musician Greg Gilbertson and his album’s cover artist, Milwaukee-based Matthew Bailey, with their artistic collaboration on Gilbertson’s debut album “Surviving the Echoes.”

Gilbertson’s album has been in the works since June 2016, and he said they postponed last summer’s original release by 10 months for Bailey to create the artwork on the cover.

“I really thought that he would spend three days putting (together) something simple,” Gilbertson said. “We’re about 10 months behind from the original plan – almost a year behind on the release – because of it, but I’m really, really proud of this thing. It was worth the wait.”

Prior to creating the cover art, Gilbertson and Bailey discussed it piece by piece so they could plan how the whole thing would come together, Gilbertson said. While the art is Bailey’s, every aspect is made up of ideas they collaborated on.

Gilbertson has been fascinated by Bailey’s art since a mutual friend introduced them. As Gilbertson neared recording, he hinted at needing an artist to design his album cover, and Bailey was eager to help out.

The original artwork, which stands 49.5 inches tall by 49.5 inches wide, is titled “Listen With All Your Might,” in reference to Gilbertson’s song “Echoes.” The art depicts themes and lyrics directly from the album. For example, Gilbertson said the goldfinch represents the idea that truth speaks – even if it isn’t loud – so it may be harder for people to hear it.

Gilbertson, an award-winning guitarist, said he hopes his record encourages others to listen closely. People share their ideas “in bumper stickers,” he said, meaning they use short, hurried remarks rather than expressing meaning through conversations.

“There’s a lot of noise, and I think there’s a lot of voices and a lot of narratives that are competing to define us and our lives, individually, collectively,” he said. “And maybe if we listen close, there’s better voices to listen to.”

Captivating lyrics, skillful guitar playing, and an eclectic array of instrumentals make Gilbertson’s debut album worth the wait. His storytelling skills are evident in his lyrics, which describe what he sees in the world.

“Surviving the Echoes” features Alisha Schwisthal’s background vocals, Phil Cook on piano in a few songs, and Eric “Pedals” Thompson on bass, among other artists.

Gilbertson’s album is scheduled for release on May 4. The day before at 7:30pm, Forage (in Building 13 of Banbury Place) is hosting his album release show, which will include artists featured on the record. Blugold Radio (blugoldradio.org) will post the album on its website April 23 for a first listen. “Surviving the Echoes” will be available on all digital streaming sites May 4.

Learn more about Gilbertson and his music at greggilbertson.com or search for him on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, or Twitter.