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Published on October 17th, 2011 | by Sam

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Hank Williams Notebook Album

 

Many HWI fans out there know about the recently released album of never recorded lyrics. The album is pretty star studded, led by Bob Dylan, including Norah Jones, Jack White, and Cheryl Crow. It’s pretty standard fair, with some decent songs, some pretty poor songs, but just about the whole thing in the blasé middle.
Norah Jones puzzled me on this collection. I figured that record labels are what drove Norah Jones to be on the album, for better or worse! I like Norah a lot, she’s a great singer and is very interesting. But I don’t really see her as a student of country music, and I don’t think she would really deny that. So some record exec decided, “Oh she covered a Hank tune, she would be perfect!” What he means is “The album Norah covered the Hank tune sold millions of copies, let’s see if we can catch lightning in a bottle again.” And the results are not perfect! It’s just kind of there.

When the execs take the art out of the central purpose and put sales and money in the center, the music made is usually just kind of no-man’s-land lame. Not bad-because with the caliber of musicians we are talking about probably couldn’t play poorly unless they really worked at it. But it just falls flat.

 

Another thing happened with this album. They all tried to write what Hank would have written. Really for my money Jack White, probably the most dedicated student of the music, is the only one who pulls it off-though his vocal performance is pretty piss poor.

 

So we just end up with a mash of OK music, not good not great. No one’s willing to step on toes, or play something HWI wouldn’t have played. Dotting their I’s and crossing their T’s. It’s OK, of course, but not great.

 

Norah isn’t bad, she’s just kind of there. And as an artist that is probably the place to avoid the most!

 


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