REVIEW: Ray Wylie Hubbard (with guests) does his own thing on ‘Co-Starring’


Some artists can only be classified as a one-person genre. They are unique artists who have proven over time that they can comfortably span a variety of styles to the point that you just can’t confine them to any one category. Ray Wylie Hubbard is one such artist.

Interestingly enough, while Hubbard has shown that he operates pretty well in his own space, his new album Co-Starring features collaborations with a lot of other artists including Pam Tillis, Aaron Lee Tasjan, and Paula Nelson, among others.

The album opens with “Bad Trick,” which features, Ringo Starr, Joe Walsh, and Don Was, Chris Robinson. This is a good example of why Hubbard is a one-person genre. There is a lot of blues in this song, especially in the slide guitar. You can also hear a fair amount of rock. Then Hubbard ties it all together with some poetic lyrics that could just as easily have come from the pen of Bob Dylan.

Each song on the album not only has different guests, but also a different sound. The one thing in common between the songs is that they are hard to classify with a single label. “Fast Left Hand” (featuring The Cadillac Three) is a good example. One the one hand is a steady blues groove. On the other hand is a sort of wailing psychedelic sound that sounds like a combination of Cream and AC/DC.

If you’re looking for a song on this album that’s easy to sing along with, “Drink ‘Til I See Double” (featuring Paula Nelson and Elizabeth Cook) is the song for you. This is a classic country song that is made for getting couples slow dancing on a dance floor. There is some humor in the lyrics, and it’s tough to beat the line in the chorus, “I’m gonna drink ‘til I see double and take one of you home.”

Hubbard even incorporates his own brand of gospel into “Hummingbird” featuring Peter Rowan. This is a mellow song with just acoustic guitars. The gospel aspect is in the lyrics when Hubbard sings about making a joyful noise and hoping to hear his name when the roll is called up yonder. It’s a simple and beautiful song that you can’t help but enjoy.

Like most of Hubbard’s albums, this one takes you on a musical journey through rock, blues, and Americana. The guests are a definite enhancement as well as a testament to just how versatile Hubbard is as an artist. It seems he is able to make good songs with anyone, and that is a rare talent. Co-Starring (Big Machine Records) was released on July 10 and is available everywhere now. Order your copy here.

Ray Wylie Hubbard – guitar, vocals
Electric guitar – Joe Walsh (1), Aaron Lee Tasjan (2), Jeff Plankenhorn (5), Tyler Bryant (6, 8), Graham Whitford (6)
Vocals – Chris Robinson (1), Pam Tillis (4, 10), Elizabeth Cook (5), Paula Nelson (5), Ashley McBryde (7), Megan Lovell (8), Ronnie Dunn (10)
Bass – Don Was (1), Tommy Scifres (2), Mike Morgan (5, 9), Noah Kenney (6)
Drums – Ringo Starr (1), Seth Earnest (2), Neil Mason (3), Kyle Schneider (5, 7), Caleb Crosby (6, 8)
Lap steel bass – Kelby Ray Caldwell (3)
Guitar, background vocals – Jaren johnston (3)
Resonator – Lucas Hubbard (4)
Slide guitar, mandolin – Jeff Plankenhorn (7)
Lap steel guitar – Kelby Ray Caldwell (3), Megan Lovell (8)
Acoustic guitar – Peter Rowan (9)
Cello – Brian Standefer (10)

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