Ray Wylie Hubbard: The Grifter’s Hymnal

Written by May 8th, 2012 at 2:40 pm

Ray Wylie Hubbard
The Grifter’s Hymnal
(Bordello)
Rating: ★★★½☆

Veteran Americana swamp rockers don’t get any more grizzled or authentic than Hubbard. His 16th release is a beautifully realized and appropriately ragged work that combines his bluesy country rocking and gritty vocals with a “strip bar dirty” sound that can only be made by someone who has played dives and juke joints for over 40 years. The songs are solid but the disc is greater than the sum of its parts as it congeals around Hubbard’s confessional, often personal memories in “New Year’s Eve at the Gates of Hell” (that imagines his own demise) and a summation of his struggling early days in “Mother Blues.” The album’s one cover, Ringo Starr’s “Coochy Coochy” featuring the Beatle drummer, gracefully drags the tune through the Mississippi mud and transforms it into another scab of rugged, hardscrabble reminiscences from a life lived on the road.

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