Above the Law
Ray Wylie Hubbard redefines outlaw; Golden Smog sticks it to the man; David Gilmour rebels from his roots; and Feist is so hot, she should be illegal
Ray Wylie Hubbard
Ray Wylie Hubbard
“God coughs and puts out his cigarette/ and says what’s this got to do with you/ it’s hard to get a rascal’s attention/ I keep raising the stakes until I do,” Hubbard sings in “Kilowatts,” leaned up against the song’s bluesy backbone, growling with the conviction of a Baptist preacher. He’s the swamp-goth cousin of Bob Dylan, the fugitive brother of Waylon Jennings, the illegitimate son of Willie Nelson.
It’s all there: Jesus and the devil, feathered serpents and polecats, malt liquor and lying women, hushpuppies and catfish and—you knew it was coming—biscuits. All that hovering above the tooth-and-nail production of Gurf Morlix (Lucinda Williams, Robert Earl Keen, Mary Gauthier), who chips in on electric guitar for most of the album. We understand: It must be hard to sit on your hands when you’re in the presence of an outlaw country icon.
Another Fine Day reveals Golden Smog’s love and knowledge of rock and roll and its tumultuous history. For starters, the record unfolds and plays out the way an album should, building an emotional effect over a series of songs rather than jerky attempts at packing a record full of singles. Another Fine Day is by no means a series of hit songs, and yet virtually every track offers itself to a place on that mix CD you’re formulating. With a range vast enough to search out any emotion, this record contains a song for any given day.
Golden Smog’s dense recording does not shy away from hooks and catchy harmonies. Melodically, most of the tracks are so matured that it seems the song has been around forever. As if rather than being created, the song was merely discovered by a musical explorer mapping it out on lined sheets of paper for the rest of us.
Learning from the mistakes of others and standing on the shoulders of giants, Golden Smog forges ahead with solid, straightforward rock and roll. Another Fine Day may not be a record that quenches the need for instant gratification, but in the spirit of time-tested troubadours, Golden Smog’s music will still be loved after the fads pass and the dust settles.
And being David Gilmour means writing songs that breathe; simple, ethereal songs that float in on clouds of dream-ether, and leave on the wings of a sigh. And it means leaning back and letting that magic axe do most of the talking. Gilmour’s smooth, velvety playing has only grown more refined with age, and here he stretches out on nearly every tune, singing sweet Strat lullabies that must surely make the Gods themselves quaver and weep.