Wayne Hancock


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Wayne Hancock is an anachronism. Working on either side of the dawn of the 21st century, Hancock's music is a direct descendant of the classic honky tonk sound of the late 1940s and early '50s. Hank and Lefty provided the template, and no one in the last 35 years or so has put it to better use than Wayne Hancock. No real surprises here: juke joints, loneliness and life on the road form the basis of most songs, and Hancock gives his players plenty of room to play. Lloyd Maines' no-frills production stays out of the way, letting the performances speak for themselves with clarinet and trombone coloring a few tracks (as they have in the past). Producer Maines and guys like guitarists Dave Biller and Paul Skelton have been with Hancock since the beginning, so there's an easygoing vibe to the whole album. These guys know the drill, and it allows Hancock to cut his records the old way: set up live in the studio and get it on tape. Limited or no rehearsal, first or second takes and the whole record is completed in less than three days. You can actually hear Hancock shouting out the solo order on most of the tracks. Tulsa's got a few more slower tunes than others in the catalog, but the band can still rev it up for songs like the title track and "Goin' to Texas When I'm Through." Wayne Hancock isn't a revivalist; he's a throwback. He lives this life and he's been doing it for years. "Shooting Star from Texas" sums it all up perfectly; an autobiographical tune written in that simple, direct, everyday style that Hank Williams was so brilliant at. Wayne Hancock doesn't offer anything new on Tulsa, but that's not the issue. Since there are so few genuine honky tonkers today and Hancock is so good at what he does, it's actually refreshing to hear such a pure American music.

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