Buzz Cason

Hats Off to Hank

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Buzz Cason has been writing and performing pop and country music for over 50 years now, and you can hear every year of experience and every mile of road in his rough, gritty voice. That's both good and bad -- his voice is quite expressive, but it's not very tuneful, and from listening to Hats Off to Hank you get the impression that many of these songs would have gone over better if they'd been delivered by one or more of the many other artists who have recorded his work in the past -- Jan & Dean, say, or U2, or even (heaven help us) Gloria Estefan. But it's also true that some of the songs themselves are just a drag -- it's not until the fourth track, the charming "Get Out of Town," that the tempo rises above a slow grind and the mood emerges from a gravelly gloom. "Barbecue," however, is a very fine ode to Texas cuisine, and "Oddly Enough" is a worthy contribution to the time-honored "what is this fine woman doing with a schmuck like me" tradition in country music. Things get interesting near the end, with a downright punky rave-up called "Can't Go Anywhere," and an almost equally intense rocker called "Playin' Music." But the title track ends the album on something of a banal note -- country songs about country singers are rarely worthwhile, and this one, heartfelt and sincere though it obviously is, is no exception. Not bad overall, but not essential.

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