Jubal Lee Young - Wild Birds Warble
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Wild Birds Warble (7Bridges Entertainment, 2024)

Jubal Lee Young

Reviewed by Jim Hynes

Jubal Lee Young was raised by music royalty and has managed to not only live with that pressure throughout his career, but forge his own path. His father, Steve Young, was a forbear of the outlaw country music known for writing "Seven Bridges Road" (Eagles, Dolly Parton), and "Lonesome, On'ry & Mean" (Waylon Jennings) among many others, four of which his son covers here along with the former. His mother, Terrye Newkirk was one of the Tulsa, Okla. contingent who migrated to Los Angeles in the mid-60s and impacted the music scene there. Her record collection inspired Youngl's love for music.

"Wild Birds Warble" is Young's sixth album and the first in a decade. Although he only has one original song along with those five from his dad, he nods to Richard Dobson, Warren Zevon. David Olney, Townes Van Zandt, Utah Phillips and Mickey Newbury, all major influences. Young sings, plays guitar and harmonica alongside top shelf support from Markus Stadler (Dobro, banjo, mandolin, baritone guitar and production, engineering, and mixing), Brian Zonn (bass), Charlie Pate (mandolin), Christian Sedelmeyer (fiddle) and Jeff Taylor (accordion). The sound sits squarely between outlaw country and invigorating bluegrass with Young's force of nature vocal pipes.

Young belts it out on the rousing opener, "White Trash Song," the first of five in the consecutive sequence of his dad's songs. The expressive ballad "Jig," the familiar "Seven Bridges Road," the banjo/mandolin driven "Long Way to Hollywood" and the I-know-I-heard-this-before-somewhere "Traveling Kind." His own "Angel With a Broken Heart" brings a tender, sincere touch and fits in beautifully with the repertoire, citing truck stops and rambling down a road bound to nowhere.

Dobson's rugged "Useful Girl" segues seamlessly with the traditional "East Virginia" leading into signature songs of Warren Zevon ("Carmelita" rendered in Tex-Mex fashion), David Olney ("Deeper Well" in true outlaw delivery), and Utah Phillips ("Rock, Salt & Nails" injecting it with a heavy dose of soul). The best among these covers though is Young's deeply emotive reading of Townes Van Zandt's melancholic "No Place to Fall." In a bit of symmetry, the album closes with the upbeat, rollicking Newbury's "Why You Been Gone So Long?"

The outlaw spirit lives on through this engaging work. He calls it the soundtrack of his childhood.

CDs by Jubal Lee Young

Wild Birds Warble, 2024

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