Cumberland Island, the largest of the Sea Islands off the Atlantic coast of Georgia, is ruggedly romantic terrain – much like the album that bears its name, Neilson Hubbard’s first collection of songs for 12 years. A former Native American settlement, it was colonised by the Spanish, French and English, before becoming a plantation and later a favourite haunt for the wealthy, among them the brother of steel magnate Andrew Carnegie, who built a 59-room castle there. All that remains of that edifice, consumed by fire in 1959, are ruins.
On 11 September 2016, the day after his wedding, Hubbard took his new wife to this desolate place, and so began the genesis of Cumberland Island. A modest epic recorded in less than a week, it resonates with rustic beauty over tracks that speak of love lost and love found, exalted dreams and broken promises. Hubbard’s vocal delivery is intense, spiritual, a cracked mirror, the melodies woven together from the threads of Americana.
Produced by Hubbard with Ben Glover and featuring a roll call of leading Nashville session players, including Will Kimbrough, Joshua Britt, Eamon McLoughlin and Dean Marold, Cumberland Island resurrects older tracks Save You and How Much Longer Can We Bend, alongside newer material such as My Heart Belongs To You and Don’t Walk Me Through This World On My Own, both of which evoke the hushed intimacy and sagacious profundity of Tom Waits at his most restrained.
These days, when not recording as a solo artist or producing other artists, Hubbard is part of the aforementioned country-folk supergroup The Orphan Brigade, with Glover and Britt. Their only album to date, Soundtrack To A Ghost Story, is a conceptual project set during the American Civil War. It was recorded at a haunted house in Franklin, Kentucky.
“If a couple of years go by and I don’t do something like The Orphan Brigade, I get a little crazy,” says Hubbard.
“I think right now I’ve got a bunch of different outlets to express myself.”
Out 19 October 2018
Read More: www.proper-records.co.uk