I’d imagine it would be hard to entirely avoid making country music if your name was HANK WILLIAMS III. But, with more than 50% of the recorded output from HANK3 hitting the market today being very non-country in the traditional sense, those looking for some of the picking and stomping you’d expect from the clan will be happy to know that the double-album GHOST TO A GHOST/GUTTERTOWN contains some of that and a whole lot more.
GHOST TO A GHOST opens with a song called Guttertown (also the title of disc 2), a storytelling number complete with traditional two-note country bass and a solid fiddle lead. Lyrically, the GHOST album plays like a trashier cousin to the Reverend Horton Heat, with talk of living “the outlaw way,” fast cars, and just about every possible vice from women to booze to drugs and more. There’s some solid playing on this record, and at a few points in sounds like the ghost of Jerry Reed might’ve picked up an axe to sit in with the band.
GUTTERTOWN is a different kind of affair, a sort of ambient soundtrack to a film that doesn’t exist. With a cajun flavor to the songs that appear within different atmospheric contexts, HANK3 finds himself joined by Tom Waits for Fadin’ Moon, which along with album closer With the Ship are among numerous highlights.
Bottom Line: GHOST TO A GHOST/GUTTERTOWN is a pairing of two albums that complement each other well. Of all the HANK3 releases set free on September 6, 2011 (also released are CATTLE CALLIN and ADD) – this one is both accessible and underground, my favorite of the bunch.