Butch Hancock

You Coulda Walked Around the World

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Equal parts philosopher and joker, Butch Hancock qualifies as a modern-day renaissance man. Sure, he's a fine musician when the mood strikes him, but he's also an accomplished photographer and architect. On 1997's You Coulda Walked Around the World, Hancock returns to a "one man with a guitar and harmonica" mode that harks back to his 1978 debut, West Texas Waltzes. While these stripped-down efforts have been referred to as "lo-fi," it's pretty obvious that Rainlight is using better recording equipment than it did 19 years ago. A few of the rougher edges have also been polished out of Hancock's idiosyncratic style on You Coulda Walked Around the World. This doesn't mean that his basic stylistic blueprint -- rustic vocals and unusual wordplay -- aren't evident on songs like "Roll Around" and "Long Sunsets." This mellow set, however, lacks the bite of albums like 1995's Eats Away the Night. One is left with the feeling that pieces like "Black Irish Rose" and "All Curled Up" would blossom with a fuller arrangements and a producer like Gurf Morlix at the helm. The lyrics on songs like "Chase" and "Hidin' in the Hills" are also a bit tired and would benefit greatly from a small dose of Hancock's trademark humor. Despite these flaws, fans will want to pick up a copy of You Coulda Walked Around the World for lovely gems like "One Good Time." Even at half-throttle, Hancock is more interesting than most of his songwriting peers.

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