Hank Williams Jr.

127 Rose Avenue – 2009 (Curb)

Reviewed by Ken Burke

CDs by Hank Williams Jr.

Conjuring his trademark Southern rock and country blues sound, Hank Williams Jr. mines areas familiar to longtime fans. In the process, he delivers an album that boasts characteristic poignancy and drive, but occasionally falls flat. The most disappointing moments occur when the 60-year-old Williams proves too winded to convincingly chant the rapid-fire lyrics of Farm Song. The vigilantism implied in Sounds Like Justice plays out distastefully and his southern rocker about a sexy gold-digger, High Maintenance Woman, seems dated and hollow.

However, Williams's blue collar lament about a crumbling town and bad economy Red White & Pink Slip Blues empathetically echoes his better everyman anthems. Collaborating with The Grascals on All the Roads, the uptempo bluegrass syncopation and zippy acoustic solos elicit some first-rate traditional vocals.

Best are the - by now typical - tunes inspired by the Hank Sr .era. The late steel player Don Helms receives a mighty tribute with the Last Drifting Cowboy. Further, Jr. hints that his famous daddy haunts 127 Rose Avenue, and offers a monster remake of Long Gone Lonesome Blues. Casting himself as a prewar blues player teaching a young Bocephus how to play the tune, he lays down a cut so blusey and acoustic that it practically bleeds authenticity.

Although few songs on this 11-song set crackle with that type of invention, Hank Jr. is still a commanding sonic presence. That said, his time-tested formula is beginning to run thin.