NORMAN — Album name: Ride (2013, Bloodshot Records)
Musician: Wayne Hancock
Why you should listen: At age 48 Wayne Hancock has a terrific new album. Known as a hard-working journeyman singer and rhythm guitarist, this is an exciting 11th addition to his discography.
Hancock doesn’t have the prettiest vocals in Austin, but these latest original tracks place him among the most soulful singers in roots rock and Americana today. He’s a true stylist in the sense that no one else sounds anything like him. Hancock’s voice is a bit high and rolls out with a smooth Texas drawl. It’s a soothing sound that becomes magical when the songs are about being lonesome or blue. “Best to Be Alone (than to be in love)” has the painful ring of true life that’s sad as a crying rodeo clown. “We both got married not so long ago/ But my drinking got in the way/ And so she left me a year ago today,” sounds like 1953 country — not 2013.
In the same set of song lyrics Hancock refers to God as “The man up yonder” and a police officer as “Johnny Law” then pens one titled “Cappuccino Boogie.” It’s a highly successful straddling of old and new that comes from collaboration with Producer Lloyd Maines. “Ride” has the attractive aspect of being not just a country album: It combines bowling alley boogie, train whistle blues and union hall rockabilly into a long satisfying road trip. “Ride” is worth taking for a spin.