Reviewed by Jim Caligiuri, Fri., Jan. 30, 2004
Matt HubbardIf you've seen Jane Bond or Kimmie Rhodes perform in the past couple of years, they were probably sharing the stage with Matt Hubbard. He's also worked with the likes of Willie Nelson, Ray Price, Emmylou Harris, and Ray Benson in the studio as producer, engineer, and/or backing musician. Now the keyboard, harp, and trombone player steps out front with his own band with a platter that's an interesting mix of original tunes and covers from the songbooks of Bob Dylan, the Doors, and bluesman Jimmy Oden. Taken as a whole, Hubbard's debut is a loose-limbed affair at times recalling the melodic side of Tom Waits, while also shining light on his blues roots. Unfortunately, while his musical ability is top-notch, his songwriting and vocal talents lag behind. Only a couple of his originals, like the jazzy "Used to Be" and the near psychedelic "Scapegoat," rise above standard blues fair. He turns Dylan's "It Ain't Me Babe" into a barrelhouse blues, which while not entirely successful, is certainly a different approach and shows he's thinking. "I Will Never Be Untrue," an obscure Doors tune that never appeared on their albums, is performed in the style of Mississippi John Hurt and fares a bit better. Hubbard finishes off with "Lift Me Up," a country-gospel original that features Willie on lead guitar and backing vocals, a distinctive touch to an overall promising if flawed debut.