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Making his debut way back in 1971, Ray Wylie Hubbard has now long established himself as one of the elder statesmen of the Texan blues scene. After a four year gap following the absurdly under rated 'Snake Farm', he's back again, reflecting on death, god, life and charged up revelry, which is kept company by his whiskey-revivified vocals and a talented blues band.
With the catchy title track, Ray immediately sets up the ambience, which encourages you to lie back, light the cigarette, get comfortable and slowly sip the whiskey. Whilst the song and more so the lyrics are second-rate ("Now I'll never pay back my student loan, Smelling like Coors And Cheap Cologne...I got a woman who's wild as Rome, She likes bein' naked and gazed upon") , the bass section on 'Drunken Poet's Dream' substantiates the essential characteristics of quality blues.
The high quality of music steps to the fore with 'Wasp's Nest'. The band gets the tempo just right and employ clever use of the electric guitar. The percussionist Rich Richards dabbles with sticks, pots and pans, while Ray rambles on, cutting through the different instruments, hollering and moaning in a Tom Waits style number, 'Pots And Pans'. It's a perfect example of how well the band uses a wide range of instruments in every single song to enhance the music in this album.
Ray goes out-and-out Country with 'Tornado Ripe' – an occupying tale of a father taking his young family to the cellar, hoping to survive the tornado. The atmosphere is showcased beautifully, both lyrically and musically, with a fine touch towards the end.
With the absence of guitars on 'Whoop And Holler', other elements are introduced, such as a lot of rhythmic clapping, backing vocals and drums. Ray embraces Americana to produce a potential radio hit with 'Loose', an easy listening catchy rock ballad. He elevates the mood just before the three deathly songs that follow. 'Day Of The Dead' is rhythmically persistent throughout the two minutes of the song. Even at the age of sixty four, Ray Wylie Hubbard proves that he is still the bad boy of the west with 'Opium'. His rugged voice in this song is absolutely trippy and beautiful.
'The word of John in the Book of Revelations
Strangely, the final song of the album is probably the best one. He masterfully makes use of the banjo and the fiddle to produce an ominous tune with 'The Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse'. It's haunting.
Label: Bordello Records
Year of release: 2010
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Re: Ray Wylie Hubbard - A. Enlightenment B. Endarkenment
Feb 15 2010 15:46:08
Nice review. I'd like to check this out for sure.