Hank Williams, Jr.

127 Rose Avenue

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Released in June of 2009, the first single from Hank Williams, Jr.'s 127 Rose Avenue is called "Red, White & Pink Slip Blues," a paean to the economic uncertainty of 21st century recession America. It's like a lot of contemporary country singles these days, anthemic truth tales reflecting the concerns of the common (wo)man, who is struggling to find his/her place in a country that seems to have packed itself up and left them behind. The single was a hit and may carry the album to the higher rungs of the charts with it. That said, this has nothing to do with the actual quality of the music.

In many ways, Williams has been remaking the same record since the early 1980s. It has his seamless blend of loud Southern rock-style guitars, rowdy, rebellious lyrics, hell-raising drums, and fist-pumping choruses, with a ballad or two thrown in for good measure. It's a formula, but one that has worked to keep Williams with Curb Records and on the charts for nearly 30 years. No matter what the trend in the music itself, from the Urban Cowboy days on, Williams has remained in style remarkably enough because his songwriting reflects the timeless concerns of country fans. He first took up the heady electric guitar sound in the late '70s and perfected it in the early '80s. 127 Rose Avenue changes the production style to reflect what's going on in contemporary country -- big compressed guitars, melds of fiddles and banjos, and rock & roll drum kits. The other notable tracks on this set are the loud and proud, self-penned, "Farm Song" with a guest appearance by pedal steel guitar icon Robert Randolph; "All the Roads," a duet with the Grascals, and, as is usual on a Hank Jr. record, an homage to his father called the "The Last Driftin' Cowboy," with a sample from "Honky Tonk Blues,." If you dig Bocephus' countless previous albums and/or are a fan of the new brand of Nashville rock that calls itself "contemporary country," you'll dig this.

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