Like most folks, I knew Ray Wylie as the guy who wrote and sang the theme from Austin City Limits, and the guy who wrote “Up Against the Wall Redneck Mother.” From now on, I also know him as a carrier of the country/rock/blues torch. This is, plain and simple, a great album. Hubbard writes and sings with the world-weary attitude of someone who’s seen it all, done it all, but still is looking for that one last spark to keep him going.
The songs here are inspired. Lyrically, you won’t find too many better batches of songs throughout the entire year. They cover a lot of ground, from gambling, to living with the blues, to being a lover of the night, to trying to figure out how to redeem your life. Hubbard’s singing is not technically brilliant. On occasion he’ll bring to mind Bob Dylan, or one of country music’s outlaws like Waylon Jennings. But that voice sounds like it’s lived each and every part of these songs. And it’s a relaxed singing. He’s not in a hurry to get where he’s going, but it always pays off. It’s a perfect fit.
Playing-wise, producer/guitarist Gurf Morlix plays some excellent stuff. Biting electric and dobro (“Three Days Straight”), nice slide (“The Sleep of The Just”), killer bluegrass flatpicking (“Black Dog”), and out-and-out twangin’ country-rock (“Weevils”). He shines on all of it. This is a great singer/songwriter style album with excellent playing.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s Nov. ’01 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.