Friday, April 26, 2013

"If I Could Play The Blues Like They're Playing Me" - Wayne Hancock's Wild Ride

Spring is taking its cussed time, up north of the 44 at least. It's been too cold and rainy to do a proper cleaning of the car, but when that day finally arrives I expect I'll still be listening to this year's Car Wash Soundtrack: Ride by Wayne Hancock.

Hancock is new to me, but it sounds like he's been around forever. Part of this is due to his sound, which hews to an earlier, considerably less processed iteration of country music — honky-tonk, or juke-joint music, really. Hank Williams' grandson, Hank III, claims “Hancock has more Hank Sr. in him than either I or Hank Williams Jr.” an appraisal that is not entirely disingenuous. Hancock's songs of heartbreak have a similar disconcerting candour that leaves you wondering how delivery so muscular can be so unabashedly fragile as well.

That muscularity, force and confidence is the engine of the project, and it's fuelled with high-octane licks from some mighty fine guitarists. A number of songs have three of them trading rockabilly jams. I'm a sucker for the style, and this is the sweetest I've heard it played in many years.

“If I could play the blues like they're playing me,” moans Hancock early in the record. He might not have the upper hand on 'em, but he sure does give 'em a ride. As soon as the weather warms, I'll be rolling down the windows to Wayne for sure.

The album site (Bloodshot Records) is here, and I think the snippet from The Big Takeover review* is spot-on. Hancock's own site is here.

* “It doesn't hurt either that each song is filled with instrumental breaks from three guitarists who let loose and trade off in styles that are at once respectful of the vintage music and as demented as any rock guitar breaks…Despite the fact that there's no drummer on this record** it has the energy of the first Rolling Stones record but taking on rockabilly rather than American blues.”

** Huh. Hadn't really noticed the absence of drummer until it was pointed out to me. Had you asked, I probably would've sworn there was someone smacking the trap behind these fellas. Goes to show ya.

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