Rhythm & Views

Wayne Hancock

Essentially unchanged for 70-some years, Western swing shows no sign of slowing down, going away or bowing to any commercial concerns. Wayne "The Train" Hancock is an undisputed master, creating a seamless blend of honky tonk, laid-back rockabilly, dance-hall country and Western swing (itself a blend of country and swing jazz)--Hancock's potent homebrew of self described "juke joint swing."

And swing, Hancock and his brilliantly sublime band do on Tulsa, his sixth CD since his debut in 1995. Hancock's band is so slick and well-oiled, you could run a tour bus off of their fumes; this album is as much fun as you can have (barely) legally. This is joyful, uplifting, dance-your-cares-away-on-Saturday-night stuff; even when he is singing the honky tonk blues ("This Lonely Night," "Goin' Home Blues"), you just know there's another dance right around the corner.

An extended paean to the joys and hardships of life on the road, Tulsa comes down strong on the upside of the touring life. "You know the road is my wife / I love my life" ("Highway Bound") and "What a life I've got / I'm paid to play them clubs / Well I like living on this highway / For many years, it's been the way I've known" ("Shootin' Star From Texas") pretty much says it all.

With immaculate production from A-list producer Lloyd Maines that puts Hancock's gloriously nasally voice way up front and center, Tulsa is about as good as good gets.

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