Eric Hanke Factory Man

Austin-based roots songsmith Hanke earned rave reviews for his 2006 debut, Autumn Blues, and this follow-up deserves a similar fate. He's more eclectic than many of his Texan peers, happily throwing in blues ("Mr. Slim's Blues"), soul ("Hope Your Dreams Come True") and rock-inflected tunes like "Burn It Down" alongside country-oriented numbers. Hanke has a smooth, high tenor that proves suitably versatile, while a fine cast of accompanists include steel guitar wizard Cindy Cashdollar and Nitty Gritty Dirt Band drummer Merel Bregante, who also produced the album. Sarah Pierce contributes harmony vocals and co-wrote "Burn It Down" with Hanke. The title track tells the story of his downsized automotive worker grandfather ("we can make some cheaper brakes if we build 'em overseas"), and there's a similarly populist feel to other songs. Given the oft-gritty nature of his lyrics, Hanke's vocal style occasionally seems a little too gentle and mellow, but it shines on haunting album closer "No More Tears." This is a solid effort. (Ten Foot Texan)