Ray Wylie Hubbard sort of quietly released a new album last week, Co-Starring Too. But an album this big and shiny needs to be in the headphones of every quality music lover across the globe. No exaggeration. The release deserves fireworks.
This is a smorgasbord of incredibly talented songwriting, co-writing, and performances with folks you just may already know and love, like, oh, Ringo Starr, Willie Nelson, the Band of Heathens, Wynonna Judd, James McMurtry, Hayes Carll, Steve Earle and more.
“Stone Blind Horses” opens the album with a vocal duet with Willie Nelson, and the vulnerable, similar tones stitching in and out of one another are gritty, honest, and oh so pleasing. “St. Genevieve say a prayer.” This song has lonesome accordion and pedal steel and more, just more.
Next up is “Groove” (featuring Kevin Russell and the Shiny Soul Sisters) and hello swagger excitement. This is a co-write with Jeff Plankenhorn. “Take me to the river… a change is gonna come.” and “You take the power of a Sunday gospel/The word of God with a tambourine/The bump and grind where the sensual meets the holy/It’s a funky salvation that the spirit needs,” and it name-drops Mavis Staples, Tony Joe White, JJ Cale, and more. Lord have mercy, somebody get me a fan to cool off.
“Only a Fool Disrespect a Woman” is Ray Wylie with the Bluebonnets and the good time continues with funky grooves and wah-wah electric guitar sounds. Next up is “Hellbent for Leather” with Steve Earle and a dark tone. It’s another very sweet vocal duet, and gives you chills to hear their vocals play off each other in earthy authenticity.
“Fancy Boys” gives you Ray Wylie with James McMurtry and Hayes Carll and Dalton Domino. What a show this would be to see, if they’d book it. These outlaw musicians make a clear statement: “Hank Williams died on New Years Day in a Cadillac Fleetwood… and now fancy boys prance around on stages where Waylon once stood….” If you needed to pick one song to be the centerpiece of the album, this one is it.
“Naturally Wild” is sheer wildness with Lzzy Hale. “The band was loud and not that good/you said rock and roll is such a corporate racket.” This one will turn itself up. “Some of god’s children are just naturally wild.”
“Till My Wheels Fall Off” finds Wade Bowen, Randy Rogers, and Cody Canada teaming up with Ray Wylie and it’s more down and dirty music while they’re running hot and burning oil.
“Texas Wild Side” (of life) has the Last Bandoleros “waiting for a glimpse of heaven when the time is right … “Now Jerry Jeff and Billy Joe was as wild as they come/ But they always told the truth no matter what they done.”
“Ride Or Die (featuring Ringo Starr, Lucas Hubbard, Steve Lukather, Eliza Gilkyson, Ann Wilson)” shows Ray Wylie’s songwriting versatility and a witchy woman in black lipstick, and Ringo Starr on tambourine.
“Pretty Reckless” (with Wynonna Judd, Jaimee Harris, Charlie Sexton and Gurf Morlix) tells a lyrical tale of would-be bank robbers and a woman with a bullet on her necklace.
“Desperate Man (featuring the Band of Heathens) is a co-write with Eric Church. It starts out with the low tones of a midnight ride. “Well I’ve seen the Joshua Tree / Got down on my knees / Threw the Virgin Mother a prayer / I walked on glass barefooted / And across the Devil’s Backbone / I done everything I swear.” It’s images of cowboys, pioneers, loners, criminals, gypsies, and country musicians.
Holy moly! Don’t let this smoking hot album pass you by. Is it a candidate for major year-end favorite lists? Hell yes. We’re predicting awards for this one. It’s a major country rock show complete with superstars, and it’s also a tribute to true and sometimes fallen heroes of the genre.
Find it here: https://store.raywylie.com