Review Summary: Hank Williams III carries on the "family tradition" in what can be considered a true "outlaw country" record.
If you are familiar with outlaw country (and of course, WHO ISN'T on this site, right?), you know that the name Hank Williams is synonymus with greatness. Hank Williams was a country legend, having wrote many classic songs in his short career up until his untimely death at age 29. His son, Hank Williams, Jr. carried on that legend with many classic southern anthems, such as "If Heaven Ain't a Lot Like Dixie", "Whiskey on Ice", "Family Tradition", and "The South's Gonna Rattle Again". Both Hanks are icons in the country music genre.
So where does Hank Williams, III, the third generation of the most legendary name in country, come in? Hank III is truley a rebel in his own right; instead of carrying his family's name growing up he instead played drums in numerous punk bands, became an avid supporter of heavy metal, weed, and (gasp) Satanism! Let's just say ol' Three doesn't make daddy too proud. BUT all the while, even after playing bass for bands like Superjoint Ritual and hanging with numerous "southern metal" elite, Three did keep the family tradition going with numerous country albums, his most recent being Straight to Hell
While the previous Williams' music has been a little more subtle with references to drinking, smoking, gambling, etc (you know, the usual run-of-the-mill country outlaw regimens), Three pulls no punches with his lyrics. He says whats on his mind and in doing so, he just may have become the first country artist to have the infamous "Parental Advisory" label slapped on his albums.
Straight to Hell
is what an essential country album should sound like. There's no stripped-down "pop" songwriting, there's no over-production, there's no sappy love songs. Straight to Hell
is a venture into Three's thoughts, beliefs and experiences. He isn't afraid to say what's on his mind, though the lyrics sometimes are a bit cheesy, they get the point across.
Dick In Dixie
is easily one of the highlights of Straight to Hell
. It is an angry tirade against pop country (i.e. The Dixie Chicks, Travis Tritt, etc etc) and a way for him to lash out against critics. In the song, Three states what we already knew all along---Pop country really sucks.
Well some say I'm not country
And that's just fine with me
'Cause I don't wanna be country
With some faggot looking over at me
So I'm here to put the Dick in Dixie
and the C*nt back in country
'Cause the kind of country that im hearin' nowadays
Is just a bunch of f*ckin' sh*t to me
The sheer attitude of this album is what makes it so great. Some of the music is a little repetetive, but the musicianship is sub-par. Plenty of country shred is featured on this album, be it from a fiddle, a guitar or a banjo, the blazing stringed instruments in this album are enough to make even John Petrucci blush.
Three's vocals are not the best in the world; at first his nasal whine is a total put-off, but like many unorthodox singers, his voice grows on you and goes perfect with the music.
Back to the lyrics, most of the lyrical content in this album is angry and a little cheesy, yes. But there are a lot of laid back songs on here. Will Three be making rememberable songs like his father and grandfather before him? Probably not, but what makes this album so appealing is that most anyone can listen to these lyrics and take something from it.
My Drinkin' Problem
is of course, one of the many drinking songs on this album, and tells a story of Three's "girl" leaving him for drinking too much. Three sarcastically croons in the chourus: "My drinking problem left me today". now if those aren't lyrics you can relate to, I don't know what is!
I could go on and on about the lyrical content, and I feel like I have, but the main thing is, Three has crafted a great country album filled with great musician, and witty songwriting. Looks like carrying the family tradition isn't going to be so hard for Hank III after all.
Listener can easily relate to his down-on-life lyrics
Musicianship plays a key role
It will most likely NEVER get play on CMT.
Somewhat juvenile, cheesy lyrics at times
A little too much repetetiveness between songs
My Drinkin Problem
Dick in Dixie
Pills I Took
Not Everybody Likes Us
Things You Do to Me