Showing posts with label Joe Walsh. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Joe Walsh. Show all posts

Jul 10, 2020

Album Review / Ray Wylie Hubbard / Co-Starring

By Megan Bledsoe

It’s either a hilarious coincidence or an intentional and profound irony that the first line of this album is: “Don’t get any on you if you go to Nashville.” Certainly that is the concern when our favorite independent artists sign to a mainstream label; we’re all happy they got the recognition they deserved, but we’re hoping Nashville won’t change what made them cool artists in the first place. As bizarre as 2020 has been, it seems almost natural that this year brought about the wildly unusual development that Ray Wylie Hubbard would release an album on Big Machine. The seventy-three-year-old artist has long been deserving of more of an audience, but the alliance between Hubbard and the label that produced Thomas Rhett and Florida Georgia Line was one none of us saw coming. It’s not the first time Scott Borchetta has signed an unexpected artist, but this is no doubt the farthest into left field he has yet ventured, and the coolest thing about this partnership is that it has culminated in Co-Starring, a Ray Wylie album that is better and more infused with life than his  recent records.

There’s an energy in these songs and in Hubbard himself that wasn’t as present on his last couple of albums. The hooks and melodies are more infectious, the material is generally more lighthearted, and the parade of cool artists who contributed to the album all did their part to enhance these tracks. Perhaps most importantly, Ray Wylie is clearly having a blast with every line and guitar lick, and that vibrancy shines through and brings the album the life so often lacking on Americana albums these days. All of these factors serve to give these songs lots of replay value, and ultimately, that mileage is what matters most; it matters little how deep and profound a song is on first listen if you’re not compelled to listen to that song months and years later.

There is no crown jewel of the album; rather, Co-Starring has three. “Rock Gods,” featuring Aaron Lee Tasjan, certainly hits the hardest of the three, as Hubbard sings with sorrow about Route 91, Tom Petty’s death, and the brokenness and sadness permeating every corner of our world today. The opener, “Bad Trick,” featuring Ringo Starr, Don Was, Joe Walsh, and Chris Robinson, with its many great observations and little pieces of advice like the line about Nashville, remains the most infectious track on the album. “Drink Till I See Double,” featuring Paula Nelson and Elizabeth Cook, claims the honor of having the most brilliant hook, with “I’m gonna drink till I see double, and take one of you home.” This one is also easily the most stone cold country, for all you strict traditionalists out there.

It’s exciting to see Ray Wylie Hubbard getting his just due and to see such a rootsy album being released and promoted by a label like Big Machine. But the greatest aspect of it all is that Ray Wylie Hubbard didn’t get any on him when he went to Nashville, and hopefully, this record will see him enjoying even more of the recognition and success he has always deserved.

Co-Starring is available today everywhere.

Aug 5, 2014

Album Review: Shooter Jennings - Don't Wait Up (For George)

Shooter Jennings' project honoring the dearly departed Possum is as unique as Jones himself and as passionately odd as its master of ceremonies. Jennings here places these two original songs and three covers squarely in the context of 70s and 80s music - likely a nod to the era Shooter came to know George.

Opener "Don't Wait Up (I'm Playin' Possum)" one might expect to be a right-in-the-pocket country tune based on the title, but they'd be absurdly off. It's a loping, out-of-left-field tune enhanced by some off-kilter keys (as in synthesizer keys) and kept in the realm of country by some flourishes of steel guitar. It's a jarring track the first time you hear it, but I'll be damned if it doesn't work.

"She Thinks I Still Care" is a stripped down cover that keeps all the sorrow of the original while bouncing along on a bass line heartbeat.

Katy Cole of a new act on Shooter's BCR label, Last Daze, provides stunning backing vocals, along with her own verse, on the rendition of "If Drinkin' Don't Kill Me." This cover comes the closest to matching the stone country sound of the EP's honoree and it's probably the track hard-core Jones fans will find themselves most drawn to.

My personal favorite of the bunch is album closer, "The Door." Here, Shooter transforms the plaintive classic country song into a Joe Walsh-esque rocker that sounds like it came straight from the archives of your local classic rock station. Jennings' spin on Jones is both a re-imagining and a heartfelt tribute. Much like the EP, it shouldn't work, but it exceeds expectations. 

Don't Wait Up is available at BCR, iTunes, Amazon, etc.


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