Diane Hubka & The Sun Canyon Band YOU NEVER CAN TELL

Diane Hubka & The Sun Canyon Band
You Never Can Tell

Something To Keep Handy For Those Evenings When You Just Need to Kick Back and Enjoy the Music.

Normally it’s the Rockers who turn to Americana and its’ offshoots later in their careers; but apparantly Diane Hubka was succesful and quite famous in the Jazz world before returning to her acoustic Appalachian Roots for this timely musical adventure.
Mixing her own songs with a couple of Classics and left of centre songs from her mentors makes for a congenial and entertaining hour or so.
Normally I avoid using words like ‘congenial’ and ‘entertaining’ as the ‘music snob’ in me normally tries to find hidden hard edged meaning and syphers in songs; when at the end of the day there’s absolutely nothing wrong with music that is ‘congenial’ and ‘entertaining’ …. many times in the course of a week; it’s actually what I crave!
The first time I heard opening track Baton Rouge I sat back in my swivel chair and grinned like a ninny; yep it’s the Guy Clark song we all know and love; but Diane twists it to fit her own beguiling voice; and adds some stunning Country Licks from none other than Albert Lee esq. and the seal is set for what is to follow.
The first time I played this album was on a couple of grey, cold and damp February days; and it genuinely lifted my spirits; so only God knows how I’ll feel on a sunny and warm May or June evening as I sit in the garden drinking a beer or two.
Next up is You Ain’t Going Nowhere and Hubka turns it into a gorgeous Western shuffle that could easily be a lost single from anytime between 1965 and 78; and is perfect for radio; if you now any DJ brave enough to play ‘nice music.’
As Diane herself says she’s attempting to make an album that harks back to the pre-commercialism days of our collective youth; and she certainly hits that spot with her renditions of Shady Grove, which now becomes a ‘Country-Rock-lite song; as opposed the
standard Bluegrass versions I normally hear; then there’s You Never Can Tell (C’est La Vie) one of my favourite songs of all time; and Diane Hubka turns it inside out; taking away the normal gritty electric guitar and replacing it with Albert Lee on mandolin and giving it a Waltz like melody!
Diane Hubka & The Sun Canyon Band wear their influences on their sleeves with pride as elements of everyone from the harmonies of Peter, Paul & Mary through Emmylou and even the husky vocals of Bonnie Raitt make appearances at one time or another; and that makes the world a good place to be in for once.
The Western Swing Albuquerque is a great point of reference; my ‘reviewer brain’ was baffled at first as I tried to remember who I knew this song by and who it reminded me of …. I didn’t and I don’t; it’s just a sizzling little ditty written by Rob Carlson that lets the singer and band have an absolute blast on …. and it’s fun, fun, fun.
There are deep and meaningful songs here too; not that they change the overall mood; none more so than when Rick Maycock takes over lead vocal duties on Dancing In My Shadow; which in its own way is Country Heartbreaker; of the CS&N variety.
This follows through Belly Of The Whale too; a song that really did make me listen intently in a quest to understand the story; and I think I have fathomed it out; but that apart the production and arrangement makes it easier on the ear more than it could have done in lesser hands.
Oh dear; selecting a Favourite Song has been harder than I’d at first hoped it would be. Even just selecting Randy Newman’s Louisiana 1927 shows what a high bar Diane sets here; and her rendition is spine tingling and really does justice to one of Newman’s more cerebral songs … and sadly still sounds like a metaphor for 2023!
Then there is Blues Is My Business (and business is good) is a neat foot tapper with a hummable melody and something of a catchy chorus; all of which are rarer than I’d like these days; so the three stars I put next to it in my notes are well worthy.
Then there is Home …. phew; more of a Folk Song than most everything here; with a sparser arrangement for acoustic guitar and Diane’s amazing vocal range …. coupled to a metaphorical story many people (especially musicians) will associate with.
There’s not a lot more to say; apart from it takes a helluva lot of skill, talent and professionalism to make a ‘simple sounding’ album like this; and those of us who do buy it will keep it handy for those days and evenings when we just need to kick back and enjoy the music.

Released January 2023


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