Ray Wylie Hubbard

DANGEROUS SPIRITS

Roots Collectables

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Welcome reissue of former outlaw’s return to grace

Dating from 1997, DANGEROUS SPIRITS was the second salvo fired by a rejuvenated Ray Wylie Hubbard (after various problems had sidelined him for a period of time) with its predecessor Loco Gringo’s Lament sweeping up awards in his local Texas. With a host of famous friends helping out (including Lucinda Williams, Tish Hinojosa, Jimmy LaFave, Sarah Hickman and Kevin Welch at various times on backing vocals with Tony Joe White and Kieran Kane adding guitar and mandolin) and co produced by Hubbard and Lloyd Maines it proved that Hubbard was back in the driving seat and it stands up well to current inspection. For those accustomed to Hubbard’s forceful and sometimes abrasive approach the album is surprisingly folksy with several songs very reminiscent of Townes Van Zandt (who had died at the beginning of 1997).The opening title song is a blistering romp with some turbo charged country guitar throughout butforthe remainder Hubbard offers mainly acoustic based ballads and tuneful country folk. Heaven Is Not A Place To Go, The Sun Also Rises and Hey That’s Alright are pleasant enough songs but they pale next to Hubbard’s powerful and brooding ballads that are the meat and gravy here.

Without Love (We’re Just Wasting Time) is the song that most recalls Van Zandt, with its loping rhythm, snaking Dobro and

lonesome drifter theme. Last Train To Amsterdam is a menacing blues while Crimson Dragon Tattoo bounces along buoyed by mandolin and acoustic slide, again the ghost of Van Zandt looms over this song. The Last Younger Son towers above the competition however as Hubbard casts a baleful and portentous eye on this Western desperado with a biblical bent as the band slowly rack up the tension and the guitars crackle with menace. The Ballad Of The Crimson Kings ends the album on a high note with a gutsy and somewhat mystical musical fable and as Hubbard sings ‘Those that are condemned by the gods to write/ They a-sparkle and a-fade away’ one wonders whether he is recalling lost friends. Paul Kerr

www.raywylie.com

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