Viper of Melody
By Al Kaufman
You won't hear Wayne Hancock on country radio. That's because Hancock is too country for today's country radio. Hancock is an unabashed throwback to the days of Jimmie Rodgers and Ernest Tubbs. This is old fashioned roadhouse, honky-tonk, country, with a yodel or two thrown in for good measure.
Hancock's message is simple; times are tough, so let's swing. He opens his seventh CD singing "I wanna jump the blues and make the hard times swing." That sets the tone. There are plenty of songs about the bad economy, but there are just as many about driving cars and riding in trains, plus the obligatory songs about falling in and out of love.
Then there's the murder ballad that Johnny Cash would have been proud to write. "Your Love and His Blood" is told in a very matter of fact way, in which Hancock shoots and kills his girlfriend's ex after the ex challenged him to fight. The thing is, like everything else on the CD, the song swings.
It's one of the most upbeat murder ballads you're ever going to hear. Hancock has a voice like that of a smart-alec sidekick of a superhero. It works with his deceptively simple sounding music. Like fellow Austin legends Junior Brown and the late Don Walser, Hancock keeps the lyrics interesting, but not complicated. He understands that the music is the thing. His melodies keep you moving as everyone in the band rips off solo after solo. This is old-time country, and it is better than just about anything else on country radio today.