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Dallas Morning News
Chicago Sun Times
Hank Williams III enters
country music with a bang.
By Tim Prizer - Staff Writer
With the tattoos painted into his skin, he's as punk as the Ramones
and the Sex Pistols. With his snow white cloth cowboy hat, he's
as country as his father and grandfather. With his threadbare
cowboy boots held together with a slab of duct tape, he proves
that the combination of cowboy and punk can be done. And, in
this case, done well.
Genetics sure have been good to this Williams family. First it
was the legend, Hank Williams Sr. Then came his son, Hank Williams
Jr. Now, there's a new outlaw on the rise. Shelton Hank Williams
III has released his first solo album on Curb Records, perfectly
entitled "Risin' Outlaw".
"I just like real hard country music that sort of punches
you in the face," Hank states. "I don't like pretty
boy stuff." Hank's music sounds straight country, but his
lyrics on the other hand show that he's a rebel, a bad ass. Never
in today's country music would you hear an artist sing about
trying to "get in Ms. Shania's [Twain] pants." But
Hank III bravely states in the opening song, "I Don't Know,"
that he may try before he dies. Before the first sound of a musical
instrument comes through on "Risin' Outlaw", Hank claims
"I might get drunk and rob a bank/Shoot my car if it don't
crank." This country boy goes as far as to say that one
day he may try to "give up drinking cold ice tea."
Now, that's a rebel.
In the third track, "If the Shoe Fits," Hank further
elaborates on his rebellious habits.
"I've been roughed up, beat up, I've
been cut/I got a tattoo at a tender age/Never could respect a
sheriff tryin' to break my neck with a few friends and a can
of mace," he sings. "I was born on the south side with
a lot of rebel pride/I raised a lot of hell in my younger days."
Risin' Outlaw shows Hank Williams III taking over where his grandpa
left off many years before. He looks a bit like the first Hank,
and his squeaky, nasal singing voice presents
visions of trailer parks and dirt roads winding their way through
the Deep South. This is true country music. The kind of music
that causes the listener to insert sounds of drunken yells, empty
beer bottles clanking in the trash barrel, and cowboy boots tapping
on the hardwood floors of a barroom.
For a 26-year-old man who began playing shows with his father
at the age of 10, Hank Williams III has put out an album with
quality far ahead of his time. He did have some help though.
Hank borrowed Buddy and Julie Miller's "Lonesome For You"
and used it as the fifth track on "Risin' Outlaw".
He also does a brilliant rendition of the famous "Cocaine
Some of the best songs on the album were penned by the great
Texas singer/songwriter Wayne Hancock. "87 Southbound,"
"Why Don't You Leave Me Alone," and "Thunderstorms
and Neon Signs" are all Hancock's originals. "Thunderstorms
and Neon Signs" sounds like it was written personally for
Hank III. Hank sings, "I grew up on the road from town to
town/My daddy's line of
work kept us movin' around/I've got fond memories of the way
things were back then/The warmth of neon when a cold storm's
movin' in." The young singer is also a respected musician
and songwriter. Hank plays acoustic guitar throughout his album,
and all on his own, wrote the songs "On My Own" and
"Blue Devil," which was recorded on a 4-track by Hank
III at his home. Williams shares song writing credit on the splendid
rockers "Devil's Daughter" and "If the Shoe Fits."
The lonesome whine of pedal steel guitars, rapid fiddle playing,
and quick two-step drum beats characterize Hank Williams' tunes,
and make them superb for dancing. More importantly, it's flat
out good music. You don't have to be a country music fan to dig
it. The deep twang of the bass under Hank's rowdy vocals has
attracted artists in all genres of music. In fact, Hank Williams
III began opening for Beck on January 25 and will continue to
share the stage with him until February 5. After that, Reverend
Horten Heat has invited Hank to open for their shows for the
next 20 days in February. Hank Williams III will headline a tour
shortly following these dates.
To miss Hank Williams III would be like turning your back on
history, on a legacy. So pick up Hank's hot new album "Risin'Outlaw"
and be sure to catch him on the road. He'll make a lasting impression
on any fan of music.