Hank Williams, Jr. kicks off It's About Time -- his 2016 debut for Nash Icon, Big Machine's imprint for country veterans -- by singing Neil Young's "Are You Ready for the Country," a song that in this context functions as a bit of a fanfare for Hank Jr.'s trademark redneck defiance. Despite the appearance of Eric Church, country music's modern-day rocking rebel, this cover doesn't pander to a younger audience, nor do any of the other 11 songs on this album. Even when Hank Jr. dabbles with a bit of a syncopated backbeat on "God Fearin' Man" -- a song co-written by Chris Janson, a country up-and-comer who had a hit in 2015 with "Buy Me a Boat" -- there's not a sense of a bro-country sop because this has swagger and, as the man himself says at the song's end, "the band played like they were pissed." All through It's About Time, Hank Jr. and his colleagues play it big and burly, laying into barroom boogies and rocking country as if they never went out of style. Williams knows this isn't true, of course. He notes that "Those Days Are Gone" -- itself an ode to the days when you could hear Haggard, Coe, and Jones on the radio -- but he sings this ode to olden days without a tear in his eye, possibly because he's having too much fun once again raising a ruckus. Hank Jr. never makes apologies for who he is -- he celebrates "God and Guns," U.S.A., and parties; ironically enough, the one time he seems a little mournful is when he boasts "Just Call Me Hank" -- but instead of sounding like the bellow of an old relic, It's About Time feels full-blooded and alive, the work of a man who wants to make a little noise while he still can.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine