Generations in Song

Hank Locklin

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Generations in Song Review

by Bruce Eder

Hank Locklin was in his eighth decade when he cut this killer album in Nashville with a cast of supporting musicians that included Dolly Parton, Vince Gill, Jimmy Capps, Buddy Harmon, Jeannie Seely, Jeanne Pruett, and others. His voice sounds at least three decades fresher than it has a right to, and the harmonizing and the playing are first-rate, along with the arrangements, which makes this more than an exercise in nostalgia -- Locklin and Parton, and steel player Weldon Myrick, positively luxuriate in the notes of "Send Me the Pillow You Dream On," and banjoman Charlie Cushman romps with Locklin through the rollicking "Country Honey" and "Flying South" like it was the first time either was working with either; similarly, Locklin, Gill, and fiddle-player Herbert "Hoot" Hester pull every iota of melody there is to draw out of "Danny Boy." Perhaps the most unexpected track here is "Hey Good Lookin'," which gets a beat similar to Elvis Presley's "Don't Be Cruel." Even better than his handling of the rhythm numbers are the ballads like "Almost Persuaded," where Locklin's range and interpretive skills should be the most taxed -- age goes well with Locklin on this repertory, and he's never been surrounded by more sympathetic production, mixing modern country elegance with some of the lean, raw vibrancy of his early honky tonk sides. Rather than a late-career thrust at reclaiming lost glory, Generations in Song sounds more like the work of a man in the prime of life, still with something to say as a singer. (Note: Hank Adam Locklin, the singer's son, who also produced the album, takes the lead vocals on four of the 19 numbers here, but no one should feel cheated by his presence; their voices are so alike it's almost scary).

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