The Ruffian’s Misfortune
Reviewed by: Jane Roser
Ray Wylie Hubbard is sort of like outlaw country music’s James Bond in the sense that nobody does it better and makes me feel sad for the rest (I’m looking at you bro-country).
Released April 7th on Hubbard’s own Bordello Records, his 16th album is chock full of everything there is to love about a Ray Wylie album: devils, angels, sinners, gamblers and impending doom, all wrapped up in a tough as nails, bluesy delivery that gnaws at your soul and slings mud in your eye. These 10 tracks sure pack a wallop in just under 34 minutes, plus this will be Hubbard’s first record in over 30 years to be pressed into vinyl.
Hubbard once commented on Twitter that he kind of identifies “with book writers who dip their pen in a mixture of spilt blood, gunpowder and cuss words”; now he can add to that a ‘you ask for water and baby brings you gasoline’ blues-tinged rock inspiration.
“All Loose Things” is an instant classic with a hum-along electric guitar riff and themes of sinners, the devil, gamblers and pilgrims. “Hey Mama, My Time Ain’t Long” is probably my favorite song on here. It’s the kind of pure scorched earth, rakish poetry you’d expect from Hubbard: “some say it’s the devil churning up coins in his pocket. I say it sounds more like a pistol when you cock it.”
Combining fiddle, harmonica, snarling guitar licks by Gabe Rhodes and Hubbard’s talented son Lucas, percussion by Rick Richards and bass by co-producer George Reiff, these songs, including the single “Chick Singer, Badass Rockin'” and a collaboration with Ronnie Dunn on “Bad On Fords”, are exactly what you’d expect from one of the most iconic songwriters in American history.
Hubbard once quoted a friend as saying that “anything great is hard”. Well, this must have been one hell of a tough album to make.