Tell the Devil I’m Getting There as Fast as I Can
Kind of a delay in getting the album; see, I wanted the CD, and I couldn’t find a local place that sells them. Not one that was convenient, anyway. So I ordered it off the amazon — then waited.
As slipped on the earbuds, listening to the random shuffle of tracks, I kept thinking, “This is the line that’s the greatest piece off the album.” Another song, another lick and, “No, this is the line that captures the feeling of the music best.”
This music isn’t for everyone. It isn’t folk, but has some of the same sentiment. It isn’t gospel, but carries some of the message. It sure as hell isn’t Nashville Pop Country, and it carries nothing in common with that genre. But it is a little rock’n’roll, slide in some blues, and the typical country twang as an added way to make the fiery drink go down.
It does go down. There is a raw essence, but not unrefined. Gritty. Term’s been over-used when describing Ray Wylie’s canon of work, but I kept coming back to an echo from his book, then images he paints, and finally, a raw essence that is none too pretty but very authentic. If that is a buzz word these days, this is the real deal.
There’s not quite a gravel tone to his music, and the abuse of years seems to be taking a toll, but not too much. Take the body’s soul, its essence, toss in a blender for a few minutes and pour it out. Kind of what the music is like. Painful, with redemption, an artist who keeps pushing forward with small-batch, think: micro-brew, record albums. CDs. Doubt it ever makes it to being pressed in vinyl. Available on the iTunes, for instant gratification.
However, to properly appreciate the work? An understanding of the earliest of the English poets, a moderate grasp of history, metaphysical underpinnings in a variety of arcana, and portions of lifetimes in old smoke-filled bars. The kind of places where the Devil wouldn’t bother bargaining for a soul — not worth the price.
While not entirely accurate, as of late, I’ve come to associate Ray Wylie, and his music, with the Wimberly Group, a loose confederation of miscreants, camped out in the hills south and west of Austin. Whether accurate or not, that’s been my perception.
In a recent Ray Wylie tweet, he mentioned he would hang around and sign merch as long as the fans were there, but if one waited too long, he might be loading the van with amps, guitar cases and so forth.
There’s a refreshing honesty and body of work over the last two dozen years that belies a singer/songwriter who first became famous for an early “Outlaw Country” hit, Up Against the Wall Redneck Mother. I don’t typically associate him with the “From the profane to the profound” crowd, but there it is.
Couple of the cuts on this recent album made me think he might’ve made a deal with the Devil, silky smooth voice, with taut music that appears to be loose, only, it’s not. A wordsmith, a masterful craftsman, at the top of his game.
Well, if you like that kind of stuff. I do.