Ray Wylie Hubbard – The Grifter’s Hymnal

If you’ve never heard Hubbard’s particular brand of “deep-groove-in-the-blood-masterless-samurai-folk-poet-blues,” then it’s about time you did. His latest studio release, The Grifter’s Hymnal, is a beauty, pure and simple. Man, is it good. Hubbard’s sound has changed since his “cosmic-outlaw-cowboy” stuff of the early 70s, through to more singer-songwriter-stylings in the late 80s and into the 90s. But it’s been in the new millenium that he’s really found his groove, and this release is the culmination of a sound he’s been mining since 2005’s
Snake Farm. The tunes of Grifter’s Hymnal are classic Hubbard. Tales of strippers, cards, chickens, guitars set to open-tuned blues riffs and spiced up throughout with literary allusions to the Bible, the old god’s the blues and rock n roll, and modern prophets like Martin Luther King Jr. On the opener, “Coricidin Bottle,” Hubbard “lays down a groove like monkey getting off.” “New Years Eve at the Gates of Hell” sees Hubbard playing the Dante game, dragging the rock gods and the record execs that made/leached-off them through the river Styx. “Coochy Coochy” features none other than Ringo Starr, a big Hubbard fan himself, rocking along and getting down and dirty with Ray and the boys. Get this disc, fire up the BBQ, and prepare to get greasy. (Bordello Records, raywylie.com) Sheldon Birnie

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