"Now this is country music."
That's the first thought that popped into my head all 8 seconds into Wayne "The Train" Hancock's version of Jimmie Rodgers' 'Any Old Time.'
Hancock's distinct nasal twang stretches out the word 'time' for six blissful beats of pure country heaven. That sound continues throughout Hancock's latest offering, 'Ride,' his eighth studio album and fifth since joining the Chicago-based Bloodshot Records label.
The album is 11 songs deep and 11 songs strong, featuring more of the rockabilly, roadhouse blues and juke-joint swinging style of music that 'The Train's' fans have come to know and love.
I actually received this album back in early March right after its release and it quickly became part of my car's regular rotation.
I got so used to hearing Hancock's voice while driving that I forgot that "Hey dummy, you need to write a review."
Mike's Top 5
1. Any Old Time
2. Fair Weather Blues
4. Get The Blues Low Down
5. Deal Gone Down
So here we are and I have Jamboree in the Hills to thank for reminding me to write it.
I attended Friday night's lineup out at Jamboree. The artists were entertaining as evident by the crowd's reaction. But I noticed a distinct lack of fiddle, steel guitar a lack of "country" music. It was loud, people enjoyed it, but it just lacked soul.
That's not the case with 'Ride.'
It's a smooth musical journey from the title track to open the album, clear through the excellent Rodgers' cover at the end.
And one thing I love about Hancock's music is that it's never overproduce. It's powerful, yet simple.
The rhythm is tapped out by the skillful slapping of an upright bass. There's no drum kit featured on this album. There's no need to crank an amp up to 10.
Hancock is quick to downplay comparisons to Hank Williams Sr., but it's an accurate comparison.
The voice, the style, the feel it takes you back, even though Hancock puts his own twist on traditional country and honky-tonk music.
It'd be wrong to say you're taking a trip back in time because while it sounds similar, this isn't classic country, it's Hancock country. He makes it his own.
There's a New Orleans' jazzy feel to "Gal From Kitchen's Field." There's a gospel feel to "Long Road Home."
It's been a difficult stretch for Hancock in his personal life the last few years divorce, rehab stints and the breakup of his band, parlaying into a revolving door of on-the-road players.
But Hancock let his experiences fuel his songwriting and the result are some classic country tunes on this album like 'Low Down Blues,' 'Fair Weather Blues,' 'Deal Gone Down' and 'Best to Be Alone.'
There are no throwaways on this album, a rarity these days when artists seem to pen or pick three or four good songs and surround them with filler, just to get another album out on the circuit.
From start to finish, this album is a smooth 'Ride,' one I wholeheartedly recommend to anyone with an ear for 'good' country music.
UPCOMING:?Next week I'll give you the details on the latest release 'Dark &?Dirty Mile' from Red Dirt artist Jason Boland and the Stragglers
Hughes may be reached online at firstname.lastname@example.org