Written by James Killen

ray-wylie-hubbard-ruffians-misfortuneRay Wylie Hubbard has been really coming into his own over the last couple of decades, still trying to move past the stigma of “Redneck Mother”. RWH never sought to ride the surge in Americana music, but rather allowed it to form a niche around him while he kept on being Ray Wylie. A lot of folks still try to pigeon hole his style in country/folk, but in reality, Hubbard’s music is more of a blues-rock with a country/folk twang.

“The Ruffian’s Misfortune” has been out for a year and a half now, but rather slipped by me until lately. It still combines that down home story-telling and back woods philosophy that have been present in Ray’s lyrics all along. The guitar work on this disc seems to stand out from many of his recent very fine productions. The percussion on this work is outstanding as well, with lots of emphasis on the toms for a well- defined beat on many of the songs.

The record kicks off with some fine slide work on “All Loose Things” and some classic blues chords on “Hey Mama, My Time Ain’t Long”. He slows it down with the acoustic guitar and fiddle tune, “Too Young Ripe, Too Young Rotten”, about a country girl that starts her adult life earlier than most.

These three openers are followed by two of my favorites from this disc, “Chick Singer Badass Rockin’ “ and “Bad on Fords”. They both have that heavy drum line straight out of sixties rock and roll and tell a country rock story that seems right for an Americana film soundtrack. You can almost see the film if you listen to them with your eyes closed.

“Mr. Musselwhite’s Blues” has Ray Wylie pulling out his harmonica for a traditional blues tribute. “Down By the River” is a great example of Hubbard’s back woods philosophy in story form. This is followed by another of my favorites from “Misfortune”. “Jessie Mae” is beautiful in its simplicity, just a fiddle and guitar over a heavy tom drumbeat.

“Barefoot in Heaven” is Ray’s rustic Christian contribution for this record with a salvation for the simple faithful message that runs characteristically through his discs. He ends the disc with a bittersweet “Stone Blind Horses” about the memories of folks that he has run with through the years.

“The Ruffian’s Misfortune” is a fine chapter in the catalogue that this stalwart of Texas Americana has produced for his fan base. He doesn’t seem to be slowing down in his creativity nor his performing energy (even though his 70th birthday is only a couple of months away). If you haven’t already checked it out, pick this one up on your next music shopping trip.