Neilson Hubbard - Why Men Fail Neilson Hubbard
Why Men Fail

Urbana, Illinois’ tiny Parasol has uncovered a true gem in Neilson Hubbard. The evocative singer-songwriter may be one of Mississippi’s best-kept musical secrets.

Filled with long, slow cello and violin passages, whispering melancholy vocals and lightly strummed guitars, Why Men Fail is a beautifully stirring revelation, an adventurous, unflinching exploration of a soul gone sad.

This is actually Hubbard’s second solo album, following a 1997 project that spelled the dissolution of This Living Hand, his Galaxie 500 cover band.

Certainly the darkness of Galaxie 500’s influence shows through in his current work, but Why Men Fail falls more in league with current pop crossover acts like Five For Fighting, Wilco and Counting Crows than that less accessible cult band (in fact, Hubbard apparently has some personal, as well as stylistic things in common with the Crows as well — he sang backup recently on a new Counting Crows song slated for an upcoming movie soundtrack).

Hubbard sings in a stark, falsetto-accented tenor, with former Geffen recording artist Garrison Starr (who also used to play with Hubbard in This Living Hand) adding her quiet harmony accents to a handful of songs. Cracker’s David Lowery also helps out at the mic on one song and former R.E.M. sideman and ex-dB’s member Peter Holsapple offers some retro-sounding accordion, organ and piano accompaniment.

While there are upbeat rave-guitar tracks that stretch Hubbard’s vocal energy (the anthemic "Last American Hero"and infectious, near-bubblegum organ-propelled "Surrounded"), most of the album sets a late-night mood of quiet contemplation, a la Red House Painters.

Why Men Fail is an album of subtle, timeless beauty that grows more powerful with every listen. If you love to sit back, close your eyes and allow yourself to be transported to another place by music, Hubbard’s album will weave a special escape for you.

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