Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Lost Notebooks Of Hank Williams

When Hank Williams died in 1952, he left behind personal notebooks containing a wealth of written lyrics, finished and unfinished. This new compilation brings together American artists of different generations and genres, using those lyrics to record songs that he never got a chance to, with some of them adding their own words. It's a similar concept to Billy Bragg's & Wilco's Mermaid Avenue, in which they used Woody Guthrie's lyrics.

The artists try their best to convey the mood one gets from listening to a Hank Williams tune, just with added instrumentation, and I think most do a fairly good job -- Alan Jackson (the first song being the best song), Jack White, Lucinda Williams, Patty Loveless, Levon Helm, Holly Williams (granddaughter of Hank), Merle Haggard, and even Bob Dylan, who brings a waltz-like touch to The Love That Faded. One thing still rings true; the words of Hank Williams cut like an extremely sharp knife; nothing but truth and honesty in them. It's common to hear this kind of personal songwriting these days, and we all know who to thank. All in all, Lost Notebooks is a more than decent tribute to the greatest country music artist in history. It's best to familiarize yourself with his music before getting into this.