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Copyright © 2002 Florida Music
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Musicians

Ray Wylie Hubbard

Artists often create as a means of escape: in pursuit of higher state of mind or a more perfect world. Ray Wylie Hubbard, on the other hand, is the rare artist who uses his medium to better understand himself. His recent chain of albums, culminating in 2001’s visceral Eternal and Lowdown, has been an engaging journey into his psyche. Laced with cunning humor, droll observations, and cutting imagery, the recent songs of Ray Wylie Hubbard are a brilliant translation of his own trials: he takes the simple truths of his recovery and personal renaissance and makes them resonant to listeners from all walks of life. The continuing relevance and increasing depth of Ray Wylie’s self-discovery – coupled with his natural charm and ease in front of an audience – has made him one of the most distinct voices to ever emerge from the fertile Texas music scene.

Ray Wylie first gained unwieldy notoriety in 1973 when his (supremely uncharacteristic) "Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mother" emerged as a pinheaded "outlaw country" battle cry for Jerry Jeff Walker. Despite the usually obscuring hands of time, the damn thing won’t die – it recently made an appearance on Fox’s popular sitcom That 70’s Show. The track – penned by a young Ray Wylie as a parody, not a rallying anthem – paid its fair share of rent and, ultimately, garnered Hubbard a Warner/Reprise record contract in 1975. While those early records exude a certain reckless charm, his albums of the past decade have long since eclipsed them – his youthful curiosity blossoming into a vivid melding of styles and sentiments.

Incorporating folk, blues, country and rock with such care and craft that the seams rarely show, Ray Wylie Hubbard has spent the ’90s giving life, blood, flesh and substance to the nebulous legend he’d always been. His self-released 1992 platter Lost Train of Thought reintroduced him as a spiritual roots-rocker, a pensive, witty troubadour with a rocker’s swagger. Hubbard followed that with 1994’s Loco Gringo’s Lament, which introduced veteran Texas producer Lloyd Maines into the mix. Maines tightened the sound, heightening the impact of Hubbard’s increasingly vivid songcraft.

In 1997, Hubbard joined with venerable folk/roots label Rounder Records to produce two more Maines-helmed gems, Dangerous Spirits (1997) and Crusades of the Restless Knights (1999). These albums cemented Ray Wylie’s place in contemporary Americana, both garnering rave reviews, substantial radio airplay (on the Gavin Americana charts and dozens of folk, AAA, and roots music outlets), strong sales, and rapt concert audiences across the United States and Europe.

Eternal and Lowdown, released in 2001 on Rounder/Philo records, is the latest and best-yet chapter in Hubbard’s musical autobiography. Working for the first time with producer/multi-instrumentalist Gurf Morlix (who’s previous clients include Lucinda Williams, Slaid Cleaves, Tom Russell, among others) has given Ray Wylie a new sense of immediacy and grit. The album rocks, churns, and grooves like nothing in his impressive catalogue. From the driving arithmetic of the opening "Three Days Straight" to a stirring, R&B revisit to Loco Gringo’s

"Didn’t Have a Prayer," Eternal and Lowdown shimmers with the glistening glow of an artist in his prime who’s curiosity and passion only get stronger as years pass. . .



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