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Joseph Huber

The Hanging Road – 2014 (Muddy Roots Music)

Reviewed by Larry Stephens

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CDs by Joseph Huber

People who listen to Bob Dylan (a) believe there are pearls of wisdom in his songs, or (b) find him incomprehensible or (c) enjoy listening to him and don't sweat the wisdom or comprehension. That will probably be your reaction to Joseph Huber. Sometimes his enunciation is a little hard to understand. His lyrics are a free flowing train of thought on the particular subject of the song, and you can't anticipate where he's going.

What do you say that you and I
Stand in the same river for a second time
'Cause it's right today; Only you and I
Making waves and fighting tides
Standing in the same river for a second time
    "Same River Twice"

Willie Nelson's "Crazy" is a lot easier to internalize.

The music from Huber, a founding member of the Milwaukee, Wisconsin based streetgrass group, the .357 String Band, is a mix of styles. Some songs have a somewhat dissonant Cajun fiddle on top of the music. "Coming Down From You" may remind you of Bob Seger or "Ghost Riders In The Sky," depending on your background. The title song changes pace with a fiddle, mandolin, guitar and banjo playing against each other, still with some Cajun overtones. Thankfully the lyrics are included in the CD cover, but, even so, you'll turn to Google to figure some of them out, unless you just happen to know the story of Wanchese and Manteo, although "Wanchese & Manteo" is pretty to listen to even if you don't have a clue what it's about.

The CD, Huber's third, is about the message, not the music. There are no stunning, hard-driving banjo or mandolin breaks here. The instruments - all played by Huber - are there to carry the words, not to be stars.

It's easy to imagine his fans listening, nodding in understanding like critics viewing a Jackson Pollock canvas. Don't be embarrassed if you listen just because it's good music for the ears.