There’s no sophomore slump for Eric Hanke. While 2006’s Autumn Blues demonstrated great songwriting, it was mostly acoustic and laid back. He raises the ante here with full, mostly electric, backing. You can always count on consistent burning slide accents from Cindy Cashdollar, heard on six of the eleven tracks. Merel Bregante (Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Loggins & Messina) produced the album and assembled some notable Austin players for this outing.
Hanke is a transplanted Michigan native who grew up in Dallas and immersed himself in the work of the many great Texas songwriters. He’s got the knack.
The title track begins talking about his grandfather working the assembly line and builds into a lament about unemployment and declining blue collar opportunities. “Mr. Slim’s Blues” comes directly from hours spent listening to his 85-year-old neighbor, Mr. Washington, during a period in which Hanke lived on South Padre Island. He not only translates inspirations into songs, as the best writers do, but he manages to touch on disparate but memorable details of life like baseball, old cars and heroes of bygone eras like Mickey Mantle. Inevitably you’ll find something to relate to in Hanke’s well-crafted, well-delivered tunes.