Here’s what you get when you pop in Goodbyewave song-slinger John Hubner’s solo debut disc,Life in Distortion: an epic guitar-heavy instrumental; a measured, piano-driven number that’s simultaneously hooky and sinister (“Dog Dig Bone”); a tambourine-shaking, up-tempo tune (“Time to Burn”); and the jaunty, McCartney-esque “Outside Looking In,” which comes packed with everything from Harrison/ELO-approved guitar solos to what sounds like a xylophone. And that’s just the first four of the 12 killer cuts on Life in Distortion. Honestly, you’re not leaving the table hungry after you finish this one. D.M. Jones, Whatzup Magazine- D.M. Jones, Whatzup Magazine
So over the last few months I’ve been going through my back catalog of self-released albums and I’ve been reissuing them. Giving them a proper release, as it were. Well, I had made it through all of them except my debut release as me, J. Hubner. So in order to fulfill my OCD-like tendencies I had no choice but to put it out. Now it’s all out there and I’m free to move on with new songs. New albums. New flavors.
2010s Life In Distortion has always sounded messy to me. It was the first time I’d recorded an album completely by myself -no samples or loops, no neighbor guy drumming- just me in a room full of instruments and weird ideas. Songs about my dog dying, an old forgotten friend’s alcoholic dad, cancer, voyeurism, girls named Jainie and her psychotic older brother, and ghosts…lots and lots of ghosts. Unlike my most recent album, Midwest Son, Life In Distortion was a collection of songs I’d never had any intention of sharing. They were me experimenting with songwriting. In turn, at times they felt disjointed to my ears. Like puzzle pieces mashed together regardless whether those pieces fit. They were exactly as I’d imagined them in my head, yet I didn’t think they were good enough for sharing with different ears. Yet, once 2010 rolled around I’d been living with these songs for close to a year on my hard drive and felt I needed to set them free, so to speak. They were filling space up -both on the hard disk and in my head and heart- that needed to be used for new ideas and new stories.
As adept at breathtaking vocal harmonies as he is at a boatload of instruments, Hubner delivers the goods on “I Don’t Believe in Love.” The soaring/descending vocal lines take center stage here; they manage to sound both classic and completely in the now.-D.M. Jones, Whatzup Magazine
After revisiting these songs I’ve realized just how much I loved making them. That feeling of freedom to do what I wanted without having to get approval from anyone. Songs like “Dog Dig Bone”, “It’s Alright”, and “All’s Well That Ends Well” were songs I would have never done had I been writing for anyone other than me. Leaving expectations at the studio door allowed me to go out on a limb and do things I wouldn’t have done otherwise. And coming to this record in a different headspace than what I was in three years ago I could be much more objective about it. I cut two tracks from the album that were originally released with it back in 2010. I felt they slowed the flow down. At the time I was pretty impressed with the piano bits as I was still coming into my own as a piano player so I wanted to include them. Ulitimately, I think they slowed the momentum a bit so I cut ’em. I think it’s a pretty tight set of songs now. I also changed the album artwork. Why? Why not.
The arguable album highlight (there are several to choose from) is “All’s Well That Ends Well,” an insistent piano pounder that verges on, yes, danceable. This tune starts out delicately and then builds. And builds. And builds. “No prayer can cure this growing cancer, but I know we’ll find each other / as the night grows into day, and the blacks grow into gray / you will always be my other,” Hubner sings with a mixture of tenderness, resignedness and clarity. These words can mean a variety of things, but the emotional weight is obvious, and it makes an already stellar tune even deeper and, in the end, loftier.-D.M. Jones, Whatzup Magazine
So without further adieu, here’s my first solo outing, Life In Distortion. Now I have officially re-released everything in my catalog. No more reissues. Only moving forward from here. I think that’s a good thing.