JOSEPH HUBER – THE HANGING ROAD

The Hanging Road Album Cover

The Hanging Road by Joseph Huber hit me right away. I was hooked by the dirty, high lonesome fiddle at the beginning of the first song, β€œSame River Twice,” the first time I heard it and the record didn’t let go of me until the end of the second full play. It has an old-timey feel without feeling old-timey. The traditional instruments are played just gritty enough to suit my taste. The Hanging Road was a winner immediately.

 

Several of us writers talked about really liking this record but no one jumped forward to write a review. I listened to it a bunch around the same time that I started listening to the Arlo McKinely & The Lonesome Sound record. I would jump back and forth between the two and eventually realized that I was playing the Arlo record more and that the songs stuck in my head were his.

 

Eventually a couple of us had a conversation in the Nine Bullets break room and decided The Hanging Road was a good record but we just didn’t have much to say about it. This lead me to listening more and thinking more about it. I think where this record falls short is in the lyrical depth. The lyrics aren’t bad, they never creep into the hokiness of the worst of Old Crow Medicine Show but they also never reach for a new use of language. Maybe that’s too harsh of a criticism but I want to see Huber continue to develop his craft because there’s a serious possibility that he can make an album-of-the-year caliber record. Even though The Hanging Road is not that record it is still worthy of your ears and your money.

Same River Twice
Coming Down From You

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11 thoughts on “JOSEPH HUBER – THE HANGING ROAD”

  1. I really love this record and have listened to it at least a dozen times through, which is about eleven times more than I’ve listened to Arlo McKinley. The extent I had trouble writing about Huber’s album was the extent to which it slipped so easily into the fabric of everything I’ve listened to my whole life. It was hard to pick out things to commend about the album because it felt like it was all working “as it should be.” Great, great stuff. Totally out of left field to me, too, because I had never heard his previous solo or .357 String Band songs.

  2. Ditto. I’ve listened to this a few times. I’ll review it when I get back. Like you guys, the problem is I don’t have much to say about it

  3. I’m really surprised to see the lyrics criticized on this album. I think they’re fantastic. I think “Same River Twice,” “Two Tongued Swear,” “Hanging Road,” “Goin Far on Little (Just a Little Too Long),” and especially “Wanchese & Manteo” all stand out for their lyrical depth.

  4. “a new use of language” – what are you Pitchfork? This is a great record. The fiddle playing alone is enough to recommend it. And I’ve got absolutely no problem with the lyrics – far from it. Been on constant play around here.

    1. I’ve got no problem with anyone discussing my review or criticizing it. But your snarky remark about Pitchfork is misguided and juvenile. As a reviewer I was making an intelligent comment about the lyrical content and holding this record, as I do with all the ones I review, to a high standard. That’s my prerogative. If a slightly intellectual thought and phrase offends you please feel free to read another music blogger.

      1. Wow that’s awful polite πŸ˜‰ I don’t think I’m ever that polite. They could always read me instead of you. I don’t do intellectual all that well.

  5. “two-tongues swear”

    “…to the tune of a bull gone loose…”

    “so free of fear so we toiled the years composing ghosts inside our head.”

    “…no golden bands of trust. Too late for days stained in wandering lust…”

    “Our woven bodies tumbled til drained and ever spent. Blanket the days in our taste heaven-sent…”

    “…held under bitter tongues…The ghost-eyed moon of the afternoon did spy the fleeting sun…”

    “Spin with me a future dream from one’s forever dead as the ancient mother spins her forever web.”

    “When sorrow jumps through our windowed souls and spins a dark fire that only burns cold…”

    “In your soul, as in this great land, a battle rages between two men, which one will you feed my friend…?”

    “My wounds they holler like a sinful people holler for a sign, but are just too damn blind…”

    “we sing loud old time songs, and inscribe there words that give us rest on the tablet of our living breast…

    1. Wow. I guess all it takes is to mention something isn’t perfect and people come out of the tool shed to criticize you for not heaping praise.

      My guess is that this is your passive-aggressive way of saying “hey there are some really great lines on this record and you don’t know what you’re talking about. Doucebag.” But it’s hard to tell because there’s just a list.

      What I will say, intellectually speaking, is that there is nothing wrong with these lines but they don’t overwhelm me with anything. (which is what I said in the review) I’m not going to speak to any credentials for commenting these lyrics because the only one that really matters is I’m the guy that answered the Help Wanted poster on this particular website. But they don’t move me.

      Also, I think I said in the review that I really like this record (also, I’ve played it on the radio between 5 and 8 times)

    2. I don’t share Charles’ opinion that the lyrics are a locatable weakness of this album, and I said in my above comment that the reason I wasn’t able to write about it myself (as alluded to in the review) was because I //couldn’t// locate a weakness and the whole thing hit me so solidly realized.

      But, I don’t think Charles’ critique (or his phrasing of it) was petty or aggressive (ie. pitchforky). And I don’t think the lines quoted above are doing anybody arguing in favor of Huber’s lyrics any favors. Those quotes are fine and serviceable and in context they really are awesome–in his voice, in his songs. But pulled out of context, they’re not impressing anybody. I feel the same about Moreland’s lyrics most of the time, though.

  6. My bad. Not meant to be passive aggressive.

    I was just thinking…if you don’t like Yeats because you don’t like romantic poetry, then yeah, that’s fine. No big deal. Not your bag. But if you say you don’t like Yeats because he’s lyrically not deep, you are objectively wrong in saying so. Am I exaggerating with the comparison?..yes much. But just saying. No hard feelings.

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