After signing with Spectra Music Group in July of 2023, Tennessee based singer-songwriter Billy Hubbard just released his first album in October 2023. Hubbard grew up with a mother in the entertainment industry and has been playing guitar since he was a teenager. The long-awaited self-titled record is a collection of ten songs in which Hubbard reminisces on past experiences and relationships. There is so much heart and emotion that was put into this first album as Hubbard opens up about his journey.
The opening track on the album is “Castin’ Away My Blues.” This song is about letting go of a previous relationship after realizing that you want different things. Hubbard explains that this significant other wanted a life in the city, but he wants a nice quiet life in the country. The track is about him not being cut out for the life that she desires. He sings “I’m castin’ away my blues to forget about you.” It is about putting aside what he felt for the person and trying to move on. The upbeat melody with a bluesy sound then transitions into a soft sound with quieter vocals and strings for “Civil War Letters” as Hubbard continues to reflect on a past relationship.
In the collection of ten songs, there were quite a few collaborations with Bethany Jean Smith, Charlie McCoy, and Shawn Camp. “Lonesome When I’m With You” is a duet with Bethany Jean Smith. Everything about this track from the way both voices complement each other to the electric guitar solo that changes over to an acoustic backing make this a standout track on the album.
Listeners can hear more of Hubbard’s lower vocal range in the song “Take Me Back.” The theme of longing for the past continues with this track as Hubbard sings about wanting to go back to his first love. Following this song is “When I Look Into Your Eyes”, a song about wanting to pause time and stay in the moment with someone. This love ballad shares sweet lyrics and the repeated words, “When I look into your eyes/Precious memories come alive.” There is more emphasis put on Hubbard’s singing in this one with acoustic melodies in the background and a female backing vocalist. Mixed in throughout the song is some electric guitar as well.
In “I Think of You” Hubbard tells us that specific images and settings make him think of a certain person in his life. All the images he shares are beautiful landscapes including wildflowers, stars, and clouds. He relates this person to “all the beauty of this life.” A very endearing and tender love song that ends with an incredible jazzy guitar solo.
The album concludes with the song “Goodbye Waltz.” The plucky guitar riffs and strumming make this one unique from any of the others on the album. Hubbard asks someone for forgiveness and explains that ideally, he would want to dance with this person until they told him to leave. He had so much more he wanted to tell them but was not able to. That he would want to save them both the heartbreak. Hubbard is very vulnerable in this one and I think anyone who listens will be able to hear the raw emotion in his voice.
So many of the songs on the debut album talk of past relationships and wanting to turn back time and make things right. Life experiences and relationships are what shape us, and Hubbard was able to craft a whole list of songs together to reflect on his. After listening to this album, I look forward to finding out what Hubbard has in store next!
Reviewed by Carmen Zdanis