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Ray Wylie Hubbard

Growl – 2003 (Rounder)

Reviewed by Robert Wooldridge

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CDs by Ray Wylie Hubbard

Ray Wylie Hubbard's follow-up to his 2001 release "Lowdown and Eternal," which focused on a sinner in search of redemption, shows the difficulty in resisting the lure of the darker side. In "The Knives of Spain," the singer questions his own resolve ("If I had some grains of faith/ Well I'd keep 'em where they're safe/ Then I would not disbelieve/Be corrupted or deceived"), and in "No Lie" Hubbard confronts both his past alcoholism and wavering faith ("Ms. Williams tells me Jesus/ Turned the water into wine/ You'd think somebody could do something like that/ Would be a friend of mine"). Similarly in "Purgatory," Hubbard voices discontent ("But nobody seems concerned/ With their Saviour's procrastination"), while in "Preacher" the singer taunts a visiting man of the cloth ("My woman she was hanging clothes on the line/ I said 'Look out yonder preacher/ Now tell me have you ever seen anything as fine'") by seeming to value pleasures of the flesh over salvation.

Hubbard displays a biting sense of humor with "Rock and Roll is a Vicious Game," in which he uses the music industry as a microcosm in which greed triumphs over integrity. In "Screw You, We're From Texas" Hubbard acknowledges that his home state has it's problems ("Our corporations well they are corrupt/ And our politicians are swindlers and loco"), while he takes pride in the musical legacy of Texas.

Producer Gurf Morlix provides solid musical accompaniment throughout on various guitars along with drummer Rick Richards with guest appearances by Buddy Miller (guitar) and Jon Dee Graham (lap steel). With this, Hubbard continues to confront his demons in song and creates anticipation for further explorations.