Roots Music Report


Singer/songwriter/guitarist Jubal Lee Young here proves himself both a masterfully badass rocker and soul-tugging balladeer.  Following one celebration of Southern heartland with another, Young alternately struts and smolders his way through one of the strongest sets of country this year has yet revealed, and that doesn’t even speak to the razor-sharp axe work present.  “My Kind of Crazy” should garner major airplay and possibly make Rodney Crowell a tad jealous in the bargain.  Other standouts include “Texas Pirate Radio” and “Fearlessly”. 

Segarini: Don't Believe a Word I Say

Indiana Jones has nothing on me.  That big rolling ball chasing him?  That’s nothing compared to the mountain of carnivorous beasts chasing me in my dreams every night, each vying for that elusive review I promised what seems months ago.  It is the music reviewers equivalent to no pants in the schoolroom, the albums fighting one another to get to me, to rip flesh from bone, to make me pay for what they see as vinyl manslaughter— vinylslaughter, if you will— an offense so terrible as to consign innocent artists and albums to a certain death, so vile as to blast dreams to smithereens, so ghastly as to be— well— ghastly.


It is a freaking mountain, I tell you, big enough to crush entire towns and even cities!  So, without further ado, please allow me to at least fend off this music monster before it kills us all!  That’s right.  It is time to once again dig into the best music of the past few weeks and the immediate future.  Let us start with…

Jubal Lee Young…  I’ve been waiting for this since 2007, the year I “met” Jubal.  I was interviewing him for a long piece I was doing on his dad, Steve Young (read his story here), and needed some familial input (I also interviewed his mother, Terrye Newkirk— more on her later).  Jubal was just turning the corner then, tossing his hard rockin’ days under the bus in hopes a more lucrative style could provide a little better.  That style, Jubal’s “roots” it turns out, has served him well but it has not been easy.  It isn’t any for anyone out there these days unless you have the Carte Blanche card handed you by large corporations stocking the three million TV award shows for what is left of TV.  For most musicians, it is the coffeehouse and bar circuit with a sidestep to summer music fests, if they’re lucky.  That is where you will find Jubal and singing partner Amanda Preslar, but if this album is good as I think it is, they’re on the way up.

I’ve followed Jubal through four albums now— On a Dark Highway is the fifth— and can attest to the fact that Steve and Terrye’s little just keeps getting better.  He always had a leaning toward country, probably thanks to his parents, but on earlier albums it seemed like he was tugging against the reins.  They are good albums all, and some songs are outstanding, but Jubal seems to be finding himself on this one.  He isn’t holding himself back for once.  The whole album rides not just an energy but a wholeness, regardless of beat.

I would love to tell you that Jubal’s tributes to mother and father are the highlights of the album (he covers Newkirk’s beautiful My Oklahoma and Steve Young’s shitkicker The White Trash Song), but I can’t.  Jubal steamrolled me with a string of tunes as good as any he’s written.  Add the full band and superb background vocals and occasional full chorus (thank you, Thomm Jutz and Ms. Preslar, respectively) and some electrifying guitar work by ol’ Jubal and you have a stunner.

Earlier this year (or was it late last year) Jubal was telling me this would be worth the wait.  At the very least, it is that.  And he tells me he is a songwriting machine since he finished this one.  Don’t stand downstream, folks, The dam has broke.

Houston Music Review

Usually, if you’re anything like me, you have to listen to an entire CD before beginning to get into the point, but there are times those times when you just can’t wait. Maybe you listen for a theme..or a streak of inspiration that helps you gauge the dimension of the project. Can’t do it this time, WELCOME BACK Jubal Lee Young! 

Right out of the chute comes Texas Pirate Radio and I can feel the night air against my skin and the wind whipping my hair into unrecognizable shapes as I rocket down the highway in an old Cadillac complete with those tricked out fins and the top down burning through the gas like a Sherman tank on a faraway battlefield.  

And that’s just for starters. 

Jubal Lee Young scores huge with On A Dark Highway. Sometimes hard and driving, sometimes reflective, often flavored with humor this is always gut-level honest music from a man whose musical heritage was forged in his genes and tempered by the endless road.  

Dad Steve Young and mom Terrye Newkirk long ago laid the foundations and Jubal almost has no choice in the matter, the music is as much a part of him as breathing.  

In the tradition of Roseanne Cash’s reverence for her father comes Jubal’s version of Steve’s White Trash Song and Terrye’s My Oklahoma. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting both parents and I’m not sure there are any two songs that capture them like these two songs do.  

Ghosts of the Buffalo conjures up visions of the dusty boots and faded black hats of outlaw riders who probably felt the pain of the disappearing frontier as sharply as the native tribes did. 

There’s no doubt in any Texans’ mind that Texas girls are ohhh sooo somethin special and bragging on em just comes natural in Texas Girls while Under A Rock In Arkansas makes ya wanna sling a guitar over your shoulder and chew on the words right along with Young.

The final track is also the title cut. Imagine you’re on the road reflecting on life, love and all things possible. Sometimes, maybe that reality isn’t all you hoped it might be.. “When you're on a dark highway/Static on the radio/Losing on your mind/And a woman from long ago/Things that might have been/People that walked away/With only the stars left shining/On a dark highway”.   

Says Jubal, “I think that the title song is the essence of the album. It’s a bit of a travel log of the last few years. The underlying motif is the states I frequent and the people and places I have encountered. When the lights are out and the crowds have gone home; when the tour is over it’s just you riding down the highway, alone with your thoughts, being human.”  Well said, to which he adds, “I played 99% of the guitar on this record and I think it made a big difference.  I finally captured myself on an album”.  

Personnel on this record include Amanda Preslar. Originally from Mississippi she came to Oklahoma as a teen where she majored in music composition and now owns Preslar Music in Tulsa, OK. Having appeared on various projects in the past, this is the first time she has stepped into the limelight as a part of a duo. Her soulful voice lifts majestically above Jubal’s grit..with the pair able to almost create a third voice in the mix.  

If you’re already a Jubal fan, I don’t need to tell you that this, like his previous projects is a step down the road. I also don’t need to tell you that each record is better than the previous…and so it is with On A Dark Highway. Check him out at

Jubal Lee Young

Son of legendary Outlaw country songwriter and performer Steve Young (Lonesome, Onry & Mean, Seven Bridges Road), and songwriter Terrye Newkirk, Jubal Lee Young from Muskogee, Oklahoma put out an album in 2011 called Take It Home that included the song “There Ain’t No Outlaws Any More” that loudly proclaims, “Here comes another badass sellin’ Nashville rock and roll, long hair, denim and tattoos, lookin’ on’ry and mean. Singin’ songs about that lonesome road, some of ‘em might even be true. But there ain’t no outlaws anymore…”

No Depression

God knows it has taken Jubal Lee Young a long enough time to find his roots, but find them he did.  Right where his dad, Steve Young, left them.  Now, I don't think there is any musician who has put out the quantity and quality of work that Steve Young has who has received less.  Less respect.  Less money.  Just less.  They didn't even give Steve the designation outlaw, though outlaw he certainly was.  Hell, he was the poster boy for outlaw.


But Steve has done all right by himself and has made do, in spite of remaining virtually unknown while his long string of excellent albums continue to fall through the cracks.  And Jubal, his son--- well, Jubal is doing just fine too.  After listening to his new album, I would say he was doing great, but good music does not always equal financial reward (as he should well know). 


Jubal started out as a rock 'n roller, you see.  He preferred hardass rawk and wanted to burn the ballroom down at every turn and while he liked his dad's country-flavored blues and rock, it wasn't what he wanted to play.  Slash and burn, that's what he wanted.  Slash and burn.


Slowly, though, kicking ass began to wear him down.  Whether it was age or maturity or something else, Jubal started easing up on the pedal and slowing the big rig down.  It was a slow process, but it was also a sure one.  As he progressed, his music began taking on the slight twang of the outlaw.  Oh, it wasn't really noticeable at first because he kept the hard rockin' edge too, but the music began changing and the attitude began changing and before he realized it, he too was an outlaw.


You know outlaw, right?  It was that hard biting country sound that came out of Texas toward which Nashville turned up its nose.  It was Waylon and Willie and Tompall and a handful of country boys who wanted to rock as much as drawl and to hell with Nashville.  Steve Young was right there in its midst.  He wrote "Lonesome Or'nry and Mean" for Waylon.  He toured with Waylon.  He WAS an outlaw.


Jubal remembers it.  He grew up with it.  And though he shrugged off the old outlaw duster during his rock 'n roll years, he is an  outlaw too.


You can hear it in three songs he recorded on his new album--- songs also recorded by his dad.  While "Just To Satisfy You" wasn't a Steve Young song (it was in fact written by Waylon and a fellow named Bowman), it had Young's depth of soul and Steve ended up covering it on one of his albums, entitled "To Satisfy You" in fact.  Jubal rocks it just like his dad did, and rocks Steve's own "Riding Down the Highway" and "Renegade Picker" just as hard.  Hell, you have to listen close to even hear that it is NOT Steve, that's how well he got it down.


Make no mistake, though, "Take It Home" is no cover project.  Jubal lays out a string of Jubal Lee Young tracks as well and, man, has he grown!  The roots really got ahold of that rock 'n roll boy and, damn, I'm living in Outlaw Country again!  You can hear the ghost of Waylon and Steve at every turn--- "Angel With a Broken Heart" and "Don't You Dare Love Her" and "Have You Met Me?" and "Why Does It Always Rain?"  straight out of their playbook.  This music has dust on its boots and we all know that Nashville hasn't been dusty in years.  This comes from the Deep South.  And maybe it ain't all rockin, but it's all outlaw.


Which begs the question,  can Jubal do what Steve could not quite do?  You'll have to wait for that one.  Like Steve himself says, he ain't dead yet.  In fact, he sounds as good as ever and picks like the maniac he has always been.  Two Young's on the outlaw circuit.  Sonofabitch.  Makes me want to go outlaw myself.  If only I knew how to play guitar.

Jubal Lee Young grew up in the throes of the Outlaw Country era.  His mother was an accomplished songwriter (My Oklahoma-Terrye Newkirk)  and his father, recording artist Steve Young, (Seven Bridges Road & Lonesome On’ry and Mean) was a pioneer in the stylistic sound that combined rock, folk, and country that would shape the whole movement. Jubal’s upbringing with his father’s music, and in some cases around other legends (Waylon Jennings, Townes Van Zandt) gave him a reverence for the music of that time and the qualities they embodied.  ”Take It Home” speaks as  an homage to his roots, his father’s music and to the legacies of those he respects, while revealing Jubal’s enormous talent.

The lead track nods to Waylon in a great rockin’ cover of “Just To Satisy You.” He has the same driven energy in “There Ain’t No Outlaws Anymore” where he denounces all the wannabe outlaws coming out of Nashville.  He’s soulful, but he’s pissed. And it works. Really, really well.

Jubal can turn light and upbeat without hesitation, as in the very catchy “Neon River,” a song for his favorite Texas town, Houston.  More fun abound in the humorous “You Only Call Me When You’re Drunk.” (Many of us have been there, right?)

Honoring papa Young by recording two of his songs on the album, Jubal does an outstanding rendition of “Renegade Picker” (the title track to his dad’s first RCA album),  a fun, rebel rousing tune. “Hey……(his voice soars as he hangs on the word) .. I was born down in Dixie, I grew up in the south, listening to good music, that’s what I’m all about…”  It moves and you’ll move happily along with it. The other is the strong cut, “Riding Down The Highway.”  Jubal belts it out here with soul and grit in a resounding anthem for the life of a musician on the road.

When it comes to the ballads, JLY has got this, too.   His strong, emotion filled vibrato draws you in as it’s ringing out the heartbreaking “Don’t You Dare Love Her,” -a warning that when a woman says she’ll run, she means it, and “Angel With A Broken Heart” – a story of a heartworn musician. The intense “Why Does It Always Rain?” is a standout track with so much potency, you’ll want to play it again, and again.  The gentle and very beautiful “Good To You” let’s a woman know she deserves so much better than what she’s been given. This song shows yet another side of Jubal’s versatile interpretations, and the delicacy in which it’s delivered gives it a quiet, resonant power.

This album is one of the best I’ve heard all year.  It covers every aspect of human emotion. Flawlessly. Take It Home. You’ll love it.


~Michael Ross


–Any family is lucky to count one fine singer-songwriter among its members. Rarer still is the family with two, and lucky is the audience that gets to see them play, separately and together, in the same show. Such was the happy fate of the fortunate few dozen in attendance at Heights Presbyterian Church in Houston when the legendary Steve Young and his son, Jubal Lee Young, came to town.

Jubal Lee opened the show, part of a series held in a smallish church meeting room with an excellent sound system. His 35-minute set drew heavily from 2009’s The Last Free Place in America. Jubal Lee’s writing has a tendency toward humor, was evident in the album’s title track, a Woody Guthrie-inspired tribute to an asylum, and in the rowdy party anthem “Uh, Let’s Go!” But the man knows his way around a weeper too – lost love in “More Than Anything,” new love in “Falling for You,” and just driving away in “Why Does It Always Rain?” Through all of it, Young seemed loose and at ease, throwing in a little banter between the songs.

Steve Young took the stage almost immediately after his son’s set wrapped up. Still in fine voice as he nears age 70, he spent the next hour and 20 minutes showing how he earned his reputation as one of the most underrated (and underappreciated) singer-songwriters and guitarists in the business. His set included both his own songs – including “The White Trash Song, ” a loving ode to his family in Georgia, and his reworking of the traditional “Little Birdie”– and covers, including “Lawdy Miss Clawdy,” “Tobacco Road” and “That’s All Right, Mama.” His guitar playing on the latter combined strumming and picking in a way that recalled Leo Kottke.

After a break in which both Youngs mingled with fans and the audience enjoyed a staffer’s birthday cake – a switch from pie, the usual Heights Live intermission fare,  father and son returned to the stage to play a few songs together. They opened with a nicely picked “Silverlake,” a valentine to a Los Angeles neighborhood Steve once lived in. “Seven Bridges Road,” Steve Young’s biggest hit, followed – but, as he noted, not in the upbeat style of “the famous people” (read: The Eagles) who covered it. “This is the way I wrote it,” he said before giving a solemn, almost mournful performance, backed by Jubal Lee’s droning bass lines and vocal harmonies.

They picked up the pace with a lively rendition of “Lonesome, On’ry and Mean,” featuring some nice acoustic soloing by Jubal Lee. That slow/fast pattern was repeated with “Heartbreak Girl” and “Neon River,” Jubal Lee’s tribute to Houston that drew a big ovation. After ending the set with the love-and-violence-themed “Switchblades of Love” and an Appalachian ballad featuring Jubal Lee’s guitar and harmonica, the pair returned for an encore – “Gonna Find Me a Bluebird,” the Marvin Rainwater hit from the late ‘50s that Steve Young covered on his first album, Rock Salt and Nails, back in 1969.

Here you have one of the finest singers that the Americana genre has produced. He's got that elusive thing, a sound. When he opens his mouth, what comes out just sounds good. It is the product of many influences to my ear, no more Country than it is rock, but can be convincingly either. Power, range, and expression.

Can't imagine why the quality of his songs surprised me, the cat's got it in his blood. Jubal's the rebel offspring of Steve Young ("Seven Bridges Road," "Lonesome On'ry and Mean") and Terrye Newkirk ("My Oklahoma," "Come Home, Daddy") and grew up in a circle of his folks' amazing friends. His dad duets with him here on a tune called "Jig," and listening to that, you can hear where great voices come from. The two did a tour of Europe last year. (We all did that with our dads, right?)

Thomm Jutz produced and played a slew of good strings of many gauges. He got all the facets of Jubal's voice on tape, from a whisper to a roar, and got excellent reads on the tunes. Jubal does a ballsy cover of David Olney's classic song "That's the Way I Am" (which appears to feature Olney himself on the telephone, if I'm not mistaken), a version that may well inspire other renditions. Among the many tunes that rock, however, there are impressive ballads, like "For Sara" and "Cradled in Love."

Not Another Beautiful Day came out on Billy Block's label, Western Beat Records. There's mileage there, since a certain maelstrom of activity spins off a character like Billy, promotion and radio airplay, and tours that extend regularly into Europe. But a few of us are trying to convince Jubal to make a Country record. I want to hear that power and soaring falsetto on Country radio, and that irrepressible honesty of a guy who really doesn't give a damn.

This record's a startling debut, and the shape of good things to come. • Frank Goodman