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Album Review

After the unqualified success of Hank Williams, Jr. & Friends, which included members of the Allman Brothers, the Marshall Tucker Band, Charlie Daniels, Waylon, Willie, and plenty of others, Hank Jr. had found his voice. The New South is part two of Williams' outlaw saga, one that would take him from being a great writer and interpreter of other people's songs to being a self-parody. Waylon is on board on this set as a guitarist, a backing vocalist, and, most importantly, as co-producer with Richie Aldright. The song selection is amazing. Opening with the original "Feelin' Better," Williams states his case for leaving his old stage persona behind convincingly with Jennings underlining every line on the refrain. The cover of Steve Young's classic "Montgomery in the Rain" is full of pathos and emotion and features some killer guitar work from Leon Sherrill. Williams also covers Young's "Long Way From Hollywood" to close the set. But the confidence Williams displays here is uncanny as he tackles with great tenderness Gordon Lightfoot's "Looking at the Rain," his pop's "You're Gonna Change (Or I'm Gonna Leave)" as a rock & roll song, and Bill Monroe's "Uncle Pen" pretty much straight up. Williams contributes two more songs to the set in the ballad "Once and for All," which spells out the wages of a life spent rambling, and the title track, a modern cracker anthem complete with fiddles, a pedal steel, and a slow- to mid-tempo strut. The highlight of the latter part of the set is Williams' read of Jessi Colter's "Storms Never Last," the most pure and simple country song on the entire album. And Williams sings the hell out of it. "Tennessee" is a poignant song considering Williams Jr.'s struggles with Nashville up to that point in wanting to get away from recording programs solely of his father's songs. The mold was broken on Hank Williams, Jr. & Friends, and this is a bit of comeuppance that sounds a bit like Toy Caldwell's "Can't You See." Like its predecessor, this is a winner all the way through, full of stomping outlaw music and beer-swilling ballads.
Thom Jurek, Rovi

Track Listing

  1. Feelin' Better
  2. Montgomery in the Rain
  3. Looking at the Rain
  4. You're Gonna Change (Or I'm Gonna Leave)
  5. How's My Ex Treating You
  6. Uncle Pen
  7. Once and for All
  8. Storms Never Last
  9. New South
  10. Tennessee
  11. Long Way to Hollywood
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