Bringing Honor To The Outlaw Legacy
A spirited voice of dissent, when made audible at just the right time, can be a powerful agent of change. Hank III (grandson of the legendary Hank Williams, son of Hank Williams Jr.) might be just such a voice. Straight to Hell, Hank’s third “official” full-length release is a scalding-hot reconstruction of modern country music. Songs such as “Smoke & Wine” and the title track “Straight to Hell” sizzle with a flurry of frantic banjos, full-tilt pickin’-and-grinnin’ guitars and just the right amount of pedal steel. Highlighting the album’s precision pacing are the tracks “Low Down,” “Not Everybody Likes Us” and “D Ray White” bringing soulful reflection that balances the raucous energy. Lyrical examples from them (“Low down / once again / well I’m struggling now / to get by my friend,” “It’s a certain kind of living / It’s a certain of style”) are delivered by Hank’s crisp vocals with pride, conviction and grace.
The second disc features “Louisiana Stripes” a worthy successor to “Folsom Prison Blues” and a 42 minute “hidden track,” a jaw-dropping Pink Floyd-style lo-fi experiment boasting an entire extra album of songs. Those and a cover of III’s grandfather’s “I Could Never Be Ashamed Of You” are woven around samples of answering machine messages, passing trains, backwards audio loops and a liberal use of delay.
Although the vast majority of the material speaks of a life overloaded with drinking, sinning and drug use, it belies the tone of the album; it’s a joyous and uncompromising measure of a man. If we’re lucky, enough to turn country music upside down, but if nothing else, his grandfather would be proud.