Joseph Huber ‘The Hanging Road’ - Muddy Roots

When I read that this was a one band production I was slightly dubious. In the past these have been somewhat sterile affairs but the truth is this is a pretty punky affair. The former .357 String Band member’s music comes from the streets and bars of America and Huber know how to keep the edge and energy in his music. The songs are equally rough edged tales of hard won victories and down hearted defeats. Huber is a multi-instrumentalist know for some fast and furious banjo playing but here he plays everything that’s required. That included guitar, banjo,piano, drums, bass and fiddle. The songs, all Huber compositions, mix string band, folk, insurgent country, cajun and roots elements but each is complete in itself. Sadness stands along side the upbeat and highlight the skill that Huber has brought to his third solo album, something crafted by hand and heart, something that feels right.

A song like Wanchee & Manteo clocks in 0ver 5 minuets and has the feel of a Townes Van Zandt’s song. High praise but one that is warranted with the quality of storytelling on offer.The final track The Unpromised Land is even longer at over 7 minuets 40. A wordy song that tells of exploration and of naming distant shores and giving demands for unpromised lands. It is simple and direct in delivery with the seasoned voice of Huber sounding ageless and aged. The song builds to a haunting piano centre that has a powerful overall effect that underlines the hand craft involved and manages to fit its length without seeming forced.

The songs flow together with songs like Coming Down From You and Goin’ Far On Little (Just A Little Too Long) containing genuine memorial hooks that will make them live favourites and capable of reaching wider audiences without ever compromising on the integrity that Huber and his music has. However having said that you won’t be hearing those or any other songs here on radio rotation any time soon. This is the sound of an off the radar roots music that is real and heavy with the patina of human hope and hubris. Take a trip down the hanging road.