“Having cancer and recovering from surgery was great. It was a distraction from the depression. ”Taken from Hank Erwin's website bio, this was my first indication that the inspiration for Erwin's new album, The Copper Album, came from his own less than fluffy life experiences. In fact, this biography serves as a commentary on several of the songs. Sung over a slow tempo, lo-fi instrumentation, the net effect is less to set a style than to create a mood.
A number of the songs on the record can best be categorized as Southern rock ballads. A clang of lead guitar underscores the point of a return home statement, Hell Or Harlan. On the final song, Hell Or Harlan (Reprise) Brittany’s Melody, the jangle is then replaced with a blurry, distorted storm that goes straight to some of the best feedback-minded Neil Young & Crazy Horse. Altana is a harder twist on the Last Kiss story of lovers in a car wreck.
Sally has a country influence, a ballad about a trumpet accented belt truck that gives her a touch of Tex-Mex. Daddy Laughed is another country number with fine pedal steel about having to laugh so you can't cry. You're Dead is an acoustic number in which bassist Shonna Tucker (famous for Drive-by Truckers) draws a bow over a double bass to hell. At the bottom of the tempo scale is the album's title track, Hail! The Copper Queen, powered by a beat from drummer Adam Nurre hammering his kick drum to another state.
As you may have noticed, this isn't the record you put on to get the party going. It takes commitment. And a pair of speakers: earphones don't do it justice. Hank Erwin rewards you for this effort. The copper album leaves an impression that can't be easily wiped away, and in no time you'll be back to learn more.
About the author: I actually drove from Tehatchapee to Tonopah. And I saw Dallas from a DC-9 at night.