Tennessee-based singer-songwriter and musician Billy Hubbard has decided to take the plunge after his single from earlier this year, “All About Love,” an endearing folk song about continuous lessons in romance from parents and life, with imagery of love as God as the Father, childlike awe, innocence, and goodness, and a respite from bad days, loneliness and uncertainty. We’re excited to tell you about his debut album. Billy Hubbard features vocals and acoustic guitar by Hubbard along with electric bass and upright bass. It’s an Americana album that takes a deeper look at the range of emotions a man can feel and what it’s like to think, imagine, reminisce, and hope about different experiences. It’s equal parts lyrics and guitar, songs with a slower pace and songs with a quicker beat. They make for an easy listen with a song for every mood.
The third song on the album is “Lonesome When I’m With You.” First is Hubbard’s voice before the opening guitar starts, then a female vocalist. They add a wonderful play between masculine and feminine and a surprise from what is easy to believe is an album of all solo vocals. It’s a melancholic song about missing someone even when you’re with them, but it’s worse when you’re away from them. They use call-and -response to sing about how they feel lost when they’re apart and find their way back to each other. The last line of “Lonesome when I’m with you” leaves a feeling that is haunting yet satisfying.
The same female vocalist is in the sixth song, “Mighty Low,” too. She and Hubbard make for a two-person chorus and another welcome instance of call-and-response, a traditional conversation-like technique in Americana music. We’re happy that Hubbard is keeping this technique alive and well while the two sing about him coming home under the influence: “It was mighty low of you to come home high.” We get to see how each partner thinks in musical form
“Got to Be Real” has a lot of electric guitar that makes it sound like a blend of folk and rock music, starting with a boogie-type guitar riff you can dance to. “Everyone I see is lookin’ kinda funny at me” because of how he was dressed. Then, he dresses like everyone else but no longer feels like himself. “No, you don’t have to be a clone [...] To my own self be true, that’s really what I gotta do/I just got to be real.” He realizes that he has to be his authentic, genuine self, no matter what other people think about him.
If you want an especially singalong-worthy song, “Take Me Back” is perfect. It’s calming because it’s about a time when “all our troubles was far away.” Just by reminiscing about better times, Hubbard shows us how to appreciate what we’ve got. “When your love poured like wine and quenched this thirst of mine.” Although the relationship is different and going through hard times now, he remembers how it used to be. When Hubbard sings, ”Take me back, take me back, take me back now/Let us celebrate and dance…” you get to really hear his musical Tennessee roots in this sweetly beautiful side of his voice.
Although that’s a look at just a few songs, there are 10 total that run the gamut of feelings that commemorate what Hubbard has been through. Billy Hubbard is a slow-paced album that creates mood through guitar and Hubbard’s naked voice. These songs have been waiting for a while and they’re all from experiences he’s lived, so it’s a humble view of him as the man behind the musician. It’s wholesome listening about feeling sad and lonely, the South, the realness of true love, nostalgia, and the fleetingness of time. Hubbard took his time to release this debut and we’re grateful for it.
Reviewed by Camille Perkins