Are all the presidents really named after the streets in Amarillo? The answer is yes, but only in the strange lyrical world of Butch Hancock's songs. While often compared, vocally and lyrically, to Bob Dylan, the comparison fails to do justice to Hancock's idiosyncratic approach. Own the Way Over Here collects songs from earlier albums like Yella Rose With Marce Lacoutre and Diamond Hill, released on his own Rainlight Records. "Talkin' About That Panama Canal" sounds a bit dated, as do most protest songs, but it remains entertaining if for no other reason than Hancock's inability to remember all the presidents' names. The epic, ten-minute "Only Born" contains enough wordplay for six songs, and while one might guess that cute phrases would grow tired after seven or eight versus, Hancock's smart enough to avoid clichés. Two of the strongest cuts, "Smokin' in the Rain" and "Gift Horse of Mercy," come from his sophomore effort, The Wind's Dominion. Own the Way Over Here works as a good thumbnail sketch of Hancock: One may have an inkling of his talents after listening to the album, but less than an in-depth portrait. If the album leads listeners to seek the original Rainlight albums, however, it has done its job.
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AllMusic Review by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.