Wayne Hancock Tulsa

There is nothing "alt” about Wayne "the Train” Hancock’s brand of country, one he terms "juke joint swing.” He’s hardcore, the real traditional deal, so naturally he doesn’t get played on country radio. He has a loyal fan base, though, and they’ve waited patiently for this, his first studio album since 2001 (his third for Bloodshot). It kicks off with the pure country swing of the title track, with the two horn players in his band showing some fine jazz chops. Other tunes have more of a straight honky-tonk flavour, and Hancock’s retro-sounding vocals suit them perfectly. The steel guitar of Eddie Rivers is prominent and always effective, while producer Lloyd Maines (Wilco, Dixie Chicks) balances all the elements nicely. "Highway Bound” is a sweet ode to the joys of the road ("I was born to run this highway, and I’m here to stay”), a recurring theme here. Things aren’t always so smooth for Wayne when he gets home, as depicted on tunes like "This Lonely Night” and "Goin’ Home Blues,” while there’s an inevitable drinking song ("Drinkin’ Blues”). There’s certainly nothing innovative here, but that’s not the point. Hancock’s a strong writer (all 14 tracks are originals), and if you’re seeking a new album to fit alongside your vintage Hank and Lefty discs, you might want to hop on this Train. (Bloodshot)