Butch Hancock

Own & Own

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Critics are fond of saying that an artist like Butch Hancock deserves more attention. Hancock, however, never seemed to worry too much about who was listening. At least he didn't until the late '80s, when he allowed Sugar Hill to reissue some of his older material, originally only available on his own small Texas record label. While Own & Own didn't make Hancock a country-folk star, it did give a number of people a chance to find out just how good this eccentric songwriter from Lubbock really was. Drawn from his debut in 1978, "Dry Land Farm" and "West Texas Waltz" show that his Dylan-esque vocals and love of wordplay were born in full from the very start. The spare accompaniment, just acoustic guitar and harmonica, seems to reflect the dry, dusty land he sings about. While the stripped-down production would eventually give way to the roots rock of "Firewater" and the country duets with Marce Lacoutre on "Yellow Rose" and "Like a Kiss on the Mouth," Hancock's basic approach remained the same. The only material that really doesn't work here are the last four cuts, recorded in 1989, the same year as the album's release. The lyrics seem forced and the crunchier guitar raises the noise level, meaning that the two main reasons listeners enjoy Hancock, his clever words and spare country-folk sound, are mysteriously missing. Overall, though, Own & Own offers a good place to sample the peculiar songs of one of the most peculiar songwriters ever to wonder the dusty Texas plains.

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