Fresh songs from Grant-Lee Phillips and Bobby Rush, a stellar debut by S.G. Goodman, and an All-Star cast joins Ray Wylie Hubbard.
New single “Gather Up” by Grant-Lee Phillips is a foreboding apocalyptic warning bell. Banging and clanging his way through a cataclysmic sludge of global warming, earthquakes, wild beasts, and flooding rains Grant-Lee Phillips made fire and brimstone a sound. Phillips revealed his inspiration for the song, "When I was a kid, I was forever being dragged off with my grandparents to some little country church. The folks were always friendly as the long cars pulled up into the gravel driveway. Everyone in their Sunday best - my grandpa in a suit, grandma in a flowered dress. Once in the pews, the mood would sometimes darken with the threat of some cataclysm. There was also music. A guttural kind of music that comes out of the mouth of an old man and an overdriven amplifier. Those things stuck with me."
The legendary Bobby Rush pays tribute to Mississippi’s eponymous bluesmen with Rawer Than Raw, out August 28. Howlin’ Wolf, Skip James, Robert Johnson, Sonny Boy Williamson II, and Muddy Waters songs comprise the album’s tracklist. The standout song on the album is the influential Howlin’ Wolf cut, “Shake It For Me.” Bobby Rush’s stripped down and slower tempo take gives it a fresh sound. Where Howlin’ Wolf and other artists have let the ping of a ride cymbal dominate the foreword motion of the song, Rush leans into a funky bounce, aided by subtle claps and taps.
Murray State University in Murray Kentucky over the last 365 days has exported two future American icons. First, is the soaring, human spider, and most likely NBA Rookie of the Year Ja Morant. Now Murray State University is gifting the world with the talented singer, songwriter S.G. Goodman. Her debut album Old Time Feeling is a mix of southern garage rock and psychedelia with vocals tinged in a gothic haze. Goodman writes songs from her distinct perspective of “the insider who is also the outsider.” Feeling out of place politically on her family farmland and detracted for her rural upbringing in progressive circles. Goodman further explained her lyrical voice, “As much as I would like to be one of those writers who’s like, ‘All right, I’m gonna write a concept album today,’ I just don’t write like that,” she says. “It’s just a snapshot of a particular time period, and in this particular time period, I was going through heartbreak, which is there too. That’s a picture of real-life: You can worry about your neighbor and their economic plight, but you can also be sad in your room and have your heart broken.”
In college, my friends and I would play a game where we would try to fantasy build the best band of all time. One of us would pick a lead singer and we would have to dream up a band lineup of members from other bands. Ray Wylie Hubbard got to live out this game for his aptly named album Co-Staring.
Featured on the all-star album is Ronnie Dunn, Larkin Poe, Pam Tillis, and The Cadillac Three, but one song, in particular, has a grouping of artists representing nearly one billion albums sold. On the song “Bad Trick” Hubbard has Don Was from Was (Not Was) and world-famous producer for the Rolling Stones playing bass, Joe Walsh one of the greatest guitar players of all and a member Eagles plays lead guitar, Chris Robinson the lead singer of the Black Crows is the backup singer and Ringo Starr one of the most influential drummers of all time and member of the Beatles plays drums.
“Bad Trick” is a southern rock, blues romp the hall of fame cast gleefully grooves into. Hubbard’s slow southern drawl drips over bursting bubbles of guitar licks and down beats created by the band. The harsh juxtaposition converts his twang into something sinister. There is a lyrical darkness on “Bad Trick,” “You’ve got to have scars if you want to be a poet,” Hubbard growls. Later he rebukes the powerful, “There’s five stages to go through when you’re craven.” “Bad Trick” stings with energy and is brimming with swagger.
Cory Martin is a freelance writer in Nashville, Tenn., writing about movies, music and pop culture.