Hank Williams III

You gotta give Hank III credit for being almost all things to all people. To some, he's the genetic reincarnation of his grandpa. Or he's as much an appealing contrarian as his dad, Hank Jr. He's even the ultimate country punk--a soused and pilled-up Gen XXX nightmare inflicted on NashVegas for its egregious sins. And for the Americana crowd, he's a lot like Wayne Hancock (whom Hank III cites as an influence as big as his grandfather), with the lineage to go with the voice and gutbucket style. Then there are the macabre fatalists just waiting for him to self-immolate, something that the booze-loving first half of his latest two-fer CD, Straight to Hell, foreshadows. Much if not all of the above manifests itself in his live performances, yet underneath all the expectations and dysfunctions, there's an overgrown kid named Shelton who has the genuine talent, considerable wit and rebellious streak of a true and significant musical artist. Let's hope he gets past the sheer weight of being Hank III and can someday bring that to fruition (hinted at on disc two of Hell). Until then, it's a bumpy and strange but certainly colorful ride.
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Rob Patterson