Reviewing a cd one already loves is a bit of a dangerous task, because one has already formed an opinion of the music. For whatever reason, the cd has touched the reviewer’s emotions, perhaps impairing the reviewer’s ability to objectively examine the music. Yet, this may be seen as a good thing, since it can be argued that the testimony of the impact of the music on the reviewer may be more convincing of the music’s worth than any attempt to describe the music.
This is the dilemma I face when reviewing Neilson Hubbard’s Why Men Fail from 2001. I have grown to love this cd so much that reviewing it objectively may prove to be futile. Yet, most of the cd’s I have chosen to review are ones that I love, and this is no exception. Even though the cd is 2 years old, I feel compelled to tell everyone I can about this collection of songs that have touched me so deeply.
Neilson Hubbard is yet another artist profiled on this site that needs more attention and respect. Hailing from Mississippi, the 30 year old Hubbard is a bit hard to describe. His music ranges from southern-tinged ballads, to blues-influenced melancholy, and even the odd power-pop rock song. But, the unifying factors in these disparate stylings are Hubbard’s extremely solid songwriting, and his passionate, unique, and versatile voice. Simply put, Hubbard’s voice defies comparison. He sings passionately, somberly, and sensitively, combining an impressive range with musicality.
Why Men Fail opens with “Towns”, a heartbreaker of a ballad which features Neilson’s voice during the opening notes. Next up is one of my personal favorites, “Speedin’”, with it’s beautiful melody and nice guitar solo. In fact, a feature of this cd, besides Hubbard and his songs, is the excellent production and instrumental arrangements. The studio musicians play their superbly written parts with flair and musicianship that only adds to the quality of the music (case in point: the organ line in “Speedin’” intertwining with the piano and guitars…perfect!). “Her Father’s Buick” opens with Neilson softly singing, dramatically emphasizing the quality of his voice. Hubbard’s voice is later joined by the typically tasteful background musicians, and the song climaxes with yet another line of Neilson singing by his lonesome, a tortured soul baring his soul. Other highlights of Why Men Fail include the rocker “The Last American Hero”, with its infectious groove, and “Where it Hurts”, with its climax of passionate vocals.
In the end, it has proven very difficult to review this cd without bursting out in giddiness about how much I love Neilson’s voice, his songs, and the approach taken in Why Men Fail. Simply put, I just enjoy this cd so much, and it isn’t even the type of music I usually listen to. But, when songs THIS good are recorded THIS well, I can’t help but smile and hum the songs all day long. Wonderful…