Ray Wylie Hubbard
Tell the Devil I'm Getting There as Fast as I Can (Bordello Records)
Reviewed by Doug Freeman, Fri., Aug. 18, 2017
Ray Wylie Hubbard rides shotgun to the apocalypse, like Major Kong straddling the bomb to destruction in Dr. Strangelove. On his 17th long-player, Wimberley's gypsy troubadour continues his new-century resurgence, born in the blues of the Eternal & Lowdown (2001), slithering through the Snake Farm (2006), and caught between A: Enlightenment B: Endarkenment (Hint: There Is No C) (2010). If Hubbard's past two discs turned more autobiographical amid the honky-tonks and biker bars of his youth, the battle between the damned and delivered still lingered as backdrop for the songwriter's wit, and Tell the Devil I'm Gettin' There as Fast as I Can ponders the cosmic directly. From his opening retelling of Genesis on "God Looked Around," Hubbard casts himself as folksy backwoods messenger, less preacher and prophet than wry observer of the ways of the world – the Mark Twain of Americana. The front half plays as his own Old Testament, a musical history learned at the crossroads of Lightnin' Hopkins ("Dead Thumb King") and Koerner, Ray & Glover's 1963 LP Blues, Rags and Hollers ("Spider, Snaker and Little Sun"), with the devil getting his due on shots at Nashville ("Lucifer and the Fallen Angels"). The backside bolsters collaborations. Lucinda Williams' lazy drawl adds a slower, more melodic tone to the exquisite title track (also featuring Eric Church), while local quartet the Bright Light Social Hour scorches five-minute psych-rocker "The Rebellious Sons." All of it builds up to quiet closer "In Times of Cold," a beautiful and crushing duet with Patty Griffin made even more poignant by the guiding hand of George Reiff in one of the local producer and bassist's final efforts.