Cumberland Island – Neilson Hubbard
There’s a special place in the communal heart of Folk and Tumble contributors for The Orphan Brigade – the Nashville based folk supergroup featuring Irish songwriter Ben Glover. The other two core group members are of course, the equally multi-talented musicians and documentary film-makers Joshua Britt and Neilson Hubbard.
All three are prolific artists and songwriters in their own right, and I’ve particularly enjoyed getting to know Neilson Hubbard’s ‘Cumberland Island’, eleven mainly mellow and reflective tunes, mostly with gentle, memorable, melodic piano intros. His voice has a gravelly grace, a little Tom Waits, a slightly unnerving edginess, a hint of smokey bar room and the sentiment of ‘let’s get out of this place’.
Which is precisely what Neilson Hubbard did for this album. Seeking out the unconventional, deserted, remote corners of the globe is an Oprhan Brigade speciality, but for Hubbard’s latest solo album the scene is set in ‘Cumberland Island’, a barrier island off Georgia’s southeast coast with protected beaches and forests. Here’s Hubbard and his new wife spent their 2016 honeymoon, amidst the Dungeness ruins, the remains of a mansion built by Thomas Carnegie, which burnt to the ground in 1959.
Here, wild horses roam freely, and the artwork for the album features these exquisite examples of wild, abandoned equine beauty. The opening track, called ‘Cumberland Island’, captures this essence majestically, a retort of “see the horses running” bringing the landscape into clear focus. of course, Hubbard’s other profession as a film-maker and photographer translates into his music somehow. These are beautiful love songs, namely ‘My Heart Belongs To You’, ‘Save You’, ‘If The Sun Comes Up Tomorrow’, with a few harkening back to another time.
The third track, ‘My Heart Belongs To You’ is not a Christmas song in any shape or form. There’s no mention of Christmas anywhere, but it has a soft, seasonal tone, and could easily translate into being one for this time of year.
Produced by Ben Glover and Neilson Hubbard, you can hear their creative imaginations at work, with that collaborative approach to artistry that they put to such good use.
Launched on Proper Records and available to download from all the usual places, enjoy ‘Cumberland Island’. It’s inspired me to add it to my bucket list. I want to see those wild horses running too.