Viper of Melody (Bloodshot)
Reviewed by Doug Freeman, Fri., April 17, 2009
Wayne HancockViper of Melody (Bloodshot)
"What kind of crazy notes are these?" jousts Wayne Hancock at Huckleberry Johnson's upright bass breakdown on "Throwin' Away My Money," a valid question circa 2009 for Hancock's incomparable neo-traditionalism. As the title of the Austinite's sixth studio album suggests, Hancock cuts his classic honky-tonk and A-Town blues with some smoky and slinky jazz arrangements, allowing his crack band to shine. Anthony Locke's versatile steel shimmers through "Moving On #3" and "Tropical Blues," matching the stellar electric guitar solos from Izak Zaidman that pepper the disc and Johnson's steady walking bass lines. Perhaps Hancock's tightest recording musically, Viper still roughs the dance floor behind his cracked Hank Williams-meets-Jimmie Rodgers howl and twang, especially on the wicked "Your Love and His Blood" and hard-times truisms of "Working at Working." His Stardust stab at Ray Noble standard "Midnight Stars and You" rings more earnest for his unpolished croon.