Wayne “The Train” Hancock doesn’t play music to pump you up for a Saturday night on the town. Instead, Hancock’s old-school flavored country is more suited for sitting in a dim bar and lamenting your sorrows, putting the past away and, eventually, moving on. I also discovered on my first listen that it’s quite suitable for -10 degrees Fahrenheit.
The album kicks off with “Ride,” a motorcycle jam about the road, specifically jumping on your bike after your lady left you. While that plays a part of Hancock’s music and the more energetic song is a nice opener, the majority of the record plays with more classic country sounds and, you got it, laments about a woman. It wouldn’t be a complete Hancock review if a Hank Williams, Sr. reference wasn’t in place, as he often draws said comparisons. Here, it’s most notable in “Best to Be Along” and “Long Road Home,” a definite standout on the album. However, there’s a lot more at play too. “Any Old Time” absolutely draws from the Williams songbook, but there’s an extra bounce to the step. The bluesy swing of “Gal From Kitchen’s Field” makes me think of Willie Nelson (though the repetition and intonation of the lyric “[blank] of [blanks]field” makes me think Buck Owens every time). That swinging twang is a prominent part of the record, surfacing with a stronger blues element in the aptly titled “Get the Blues Low Down” and “Fair Weather Blues” as well. The songs straddle both genres (country and blues), firmly rooted in both in a successful hybrid that perfectly fits his downer tones.
The record, of course, isn’t all teardrops and sorrows. There’s some shitkickin’ juke joint to songs like “Deal Gone Down” and “Home with my Baby” that pick up the pace and lighten the mood, even if only for a few minutes at a time. The energy level peaks at “Cappuccino Boogie,” even if the boogie style holds little personal appeal to me, it definitely has a bumping step to it that’s needed to keep a balance. And, ultimately, it’s balance that defines Ride, Hancock’s 8th album. Coming full circle, much as the record itself does, the record isn’t just for lamenting your sorrows, but for coming to grips, moving on, and taking a ride. After all, to quote from bonus track “Tear Drops on Table 34,” “it’s silly I know/ just to hold on to the past.”
7.5 / 10
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