Release Date: Sep 6, 2011
Record label: Hank3
Genre(s): Country, Alt-Country, Americana, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
Finally free of a contentious contract with Curb records, the grandson of Hank Williams celebrates by releasing three records bubbling over with surly, scuzzy bootstompers; the results sound like line Dance Night at Thunderdome. Cattle Callin' pastes recordings of motormouthed livestock auctioneers over hammering grindcore, and Attention Deficit Domination is a pitch-perfect pass at 1970s stoner-metal; both are brutal to listen to, but it's hard not to admire the nasty chutzpah. Of the lot, the best is Ghost to a Ghost/Gutter Town, an unruly ragbag containing everything from mean-eyed industrial hoedowns to ambient drones to a bleary gypsy waltz featuring Tom Waits.
Hank Williams III made no secret of feeling stifled by his contract with Curb Records, and the rage he directed toward the Nashville establishment he believed sold out his grandfather’s legacy resulted in some tremendous, ferocious music, forcing him to forge his own identity as an artist. Now free from the constraints of his contract with Curb, Williams has made the most of that hard-earned artistic license with a tremendous double album, Ghost to a Ghost/Gutter Town, that should put to rest once and for all the shallow criticisms that his music amounts to little more than swearing and a strident “outlaw” shtick. By expanding on his trademark “Hellbilly” sound in genuinely surprising ways, Williams proves himself to be one of the most fearless, ambitious recording artists of his era.
After nearly 15 years shackled to Curb Records, who clearly had no idea what to do with him and fought his restless spirit at every turn, Hank Williams III is a free agent and eager to make up for lost time. Ghost to a Ghost/Gutter Town is one of three albums Hank3 released on the same day through his own label, and while the other two albums are devoted to Hank's hardcore rock & roll, the first half of this two-disc set is the most straightforward country set he's released since Straight to Hell in 2006. Of course, Hank3's idea of a straightforward country album isn't much like what anyone in Nashville has ever done; while these tunes may feature plenty of chicken-pickin' guitar, fiddle, banjo, and accordion, "Ridin' the Wave" roars down the road like Mötorhead, "Don't Ya Wanna" is a cheerfully rude celebration of sex and wild times, the creepy filtered vocals of "The Devil's Movin' In" are filled with menace, "Ghost to a Ghost" is punctuated by Cookie Monster-style death metal vocalizing, and Hank's dog Trooper even gets a turn on the vocal mike on "Trooper's Holler.
Hank3 summed up his new 40-plus song collection by saying, “I don’t like being told what to do, and I don’t need to be told what my record should sound like. I’ve got that covered.” You can rest assured that this is a true statement. Hank3 remains a potent antidote to the Kid Rocks of the world. After being dropped by Curb Records, he launched his own label, then (a few months later) released four albums-worth of material on the same day.