Black Music Matters Festival

Ray Wylie Hubbard

Crusades of the Restless Knights – 1999 (Philo/Rounder)

Reviewed by Andy Turner

Some of the finest short story writers of the 20th century have been from Texas, and they've told their stories in songs: Billy Joe Shaver, Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, Lyle Lovett, etc., etc., etc. Ray Wylie Hubbard shows on this album, which he co-produced with fellow Texan Lloyd Maines, why he too belongs among those great Texas writers.

Prospective novelists take note: If you are looking for a fitting epigram to lend profundity to your fiction, you would be wise to listen to these 10 tracks penned or co-penned by Hubbard. He's plum full of profundity, and this album's plum full of reflective, funny, smart and, most of all, good music.

On the uproarious talking blues song "Conversation with the Devil," Hubbard tells the devil (one of many spiritual references) he had the better fiddle solo in that "song Charlie Daniels did" and finds out rapists, murderers, country program directors and Nashville record executives are among the residents of hell.The songs that feature Patty Griffin on harmony vocals, especially "The Messenger" and "The Lovers in Your Dreams," are among the best. Griffin complements Hubbard's voice - which, at times, sounds like a cross between Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Townes Van Zandt - perfectly.