Various Artists: The Lost Notebooks of Hank Williams (Egyptian/Sony)

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Lucinda Williams: I'm So Happy I Found You
Various Artists: The Lost Notebooks of Hank Williams (Egyptian/Sony)

Just as Wilco and Billy Bragg teamed up in the 90s and set to music unrecorded lyrics by Woody Guthrie (the two volumes of Mermaid Avenue), so here unrecorded songs by country legend Hank Williams (1923-53) are given life.

Apparently Bob Dylan intended to do the project himself but, perhaps wisely, called in sympathetic heavy hitters (Norah Jones, Jack White, Vince Gill with Rodney Crowell among them) and released this on his own label.

Unlike the Bragg/Wilco project where Guthrie's lyrics were given contemporary-sounding settings, most here remain faithful to Williams' often heart-aching, simple style: Alan Jackson (with fiddle and steel guitar) connects directly to Williams' dark twang on You've Been Lonesome Too, Dylan brings a light dance step to The Love That Faded, Lucinda Williams pulls out a tear-stained solo performance for I'm So Happy I Found You, Jones locates How Many Times in a lonely cantina and Patty Loveless also gets in fiddle and lap steel for the old time You're Through Fooling Me.

Hank's lyrics were often emotionally direct which is why his classics (Cold Cold Heart, Your Cheatin' Heart, I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry) are still relevant. Many here are their equal – You'll Never Be Mine Again (by Levon Helm); Angel Mine (Sheryl Crow) – which makes this a valuable, emotionally intense project which closes with Merle Haggard's moral narrative The Sermon on the Mount, the only truly disappointing track here.

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Tami Neilson - Nov 1, 2011

Wow- what a gem, to get some new Hank songs! Thanks SO much for sharing this. Can't wait to get my hands on a copy...which may be a mission in Auckland music stores (yes, yes, I know iTunes will have it, but call me old fashioned, I love a hard copy with artwork!)

Clive - Nov 1, 2011

Agree with Tami(loved your "Kitchen Table Sessions") I also love a hard copy with artwork and like Chrissie Hynde said about the first Hendrix record 'I wanted to have that thing in my hand ,to touch it etc etc".The Hank is great,done in true Hank style with brilliant performances by Bob,Nora,Patty,levon and Sheryl.You can get the Cd easily in the city,I wont advertise but you will know where

John Ringer - Nov 1, 2011

Sublime!

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