For the follow-up to his remarkable American debut, Bap Kennedy assembled a band in his native Belfast in order to pay tribute to the legendary Hank Williams. That the resulting album -- a collection of Williams tunes reconceived by a Celtic country band -- works as well as it does is a tribute to Kennedy's intelligence and interpretive touch. Even such oft-recorded numbers as "Honky Tonk Blues," "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry," and "I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive" sound fresh in the hands of Kennedy's fine band. Though not what many fans would have liked to hear from this promising Irish songsmith, Hillbilly Shakespeare is a labor of love that surely pays a huge debt to an enormous influence.
AllMusic Review by Brian Beatty