Texas-based singer and songwriter Ray Wylie Hubbard crafts hard-bitten characters destined to wrestle with the spiritual implications of shady living. Satan’s role in such struggles gets top billing on Tell The Devil I’m Getting There As Fast As I Can.
Although it’s not a Biblical concept album, Hubbard’s new long-player begins and ends with songs that mirror the good book’s first and last chapters. “There’s a definite beginning, middle and end to this record,” says Hubbard in a press release. “It starts with ‘Genesis,’ and at the ending, there I am trying to plead my case before the court of heaven, hoping I’ve got a good lawyer.”
Album opener “God Looked Around” explains the Garden of Eden in plain English. Think Bob Dylan’s “Man Gave Names to All the Animals,” crossed with Hubbard’s biting wit.
Closing track “In Times of Cold” owes less to the book of Revelation. Still, the narrator’s fear of sin’s consequences implies deeper end time ramifications than any conspiracy theory.
Hubbard’s poetic take on grief and loss will probably chill non-believers to the bone. The minimal acoustic arrangement puts his storytelling skills at the forefront. He’s joined there by another legendary Americana singer and songwriter, Patty Griffin.
Hubbard’s first break came with Jerry Jeff Walker’s 1973 cover of outlaw anthem “Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mother.” After an ill-fated mid-70’s stint on a major label, Hubbard began an ongoing run as an independent artist. This freedom allows for an eclectic approach that culls from the entire Texas songbook. Hubbard’s usual name-drops and reference points include everyone from fellow red dirt legends to psychedelic Texans the 13th Floor Elevators and equally rebellious blues pickers.
Tell The Devil I’m Getting There As Fast As I Can is out Aug. 18 on on Hubbard and his wife Judy’s own Bordello Records via Thirty Tigers.