Eric Hanke





Eric Hanke
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Looking at the work of many young Texan singers who loudly and constantly cite them as inspiration, one could be forgiven for thinking that the repertories of Willie Nelson and Robert Earl Keen focus exclusively on beer- and burrito-fueled road trips, the thrill of being from Texas, and how much their babies love them when they’re stoned. Among rowdy anthems like “Beer for My Horses” and “Merry Christmas from the Family,” however, lie rich, layered compositions like “Whatever Happened to Peace on Earth?” and “Mr. Wolf and Mamabear,” Nelson’s and Keen’s respective criticisms of current American foreign policy and governmental corruption, that are characterized by piercing, reflective intelligence. Similarly, within the pack of Nelson/Keen acolytes, most of whom seem content to pen boozy shoutalongs that sound like shopping lists being read aloud, can be found songwriters like Eric Hanke—thank God. Hanke, a Dallas native who counts not only Nelson and Keen but Steve Earle, Townes Van Zandt, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, and Woody Guthrie among his heroes, has on Autumn Blues created eleven songs suffused with those artists’ most important legacies: unfailing empathy and a pitch-perfect sense of detail. Autumn Blues sees Hanke trying to put himself in the shoes of a broad array of people—an opponent of the Iraq war whose brother becomes a soldier in it, an unrepentant outlaw on his deathbed, a morose Everyman stirred by the message on a panhandler’s sign—and making nary a misstep doing it. As producers, Hanke and percussionist Merel Bregante (Loggins & Messina, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band) wisely resist the temptation to let the talented backing players (Keen sideman Rich Brotherton, Dylan collaborator Cindy Cashdollar, et al) run amok. Consequently, Brotherton’s soaring, incendiary lead work during the instrumental breaks of “The War” underscores the defeated drone of the verses instead of upstaging it, conveying a fuller picture of the narrator’s anguish as he swings between resignation and rage; and Cashdollar’s spectral lapsteel solos on “Ride Away” highlight the calm intransigence of its dying criminal (who could be a distant relative of Sam Peckinpah’s Pike Bishop), lending him an ironic dignity as, alone and ready for Hell, he looks back on a life of mostly harm done. Of course, being young, good-looking, and 6’8”, Hanke also knows how to show everybody a good time. “Where You Goin’?”, a paean to teasing and being teased, grooves like mad, its playful midtempo beat assuring us that the narrator’s titular question to the for-now-unattainable object of his affection is answered by a flirtatious smile; the irresistible “Smoke Through The Screen Door” will elicit a been-there chuckle from anyone who has ever been stoned enough to fully appreciate its metaphor for the transience of not-quite-love; and the achingly beautiful “Flora” shows that, for all the fun to be had losing the girl, there really is no substitute for keeping her. By the standards of any genre, Autumn Blues displays rare eloquence and depth, and on it Eric Hanke pays ample tribute to his influences while carving out a niche all his own. As stylistic ancestors, Keen and Nelson and all the rest could not ask for more. -Leo McKinney
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Average Rating : 4.1              Total Reviews: 10


Eric Hanke  05/03/2010            
Vicki Dial
I have been playing this CD so much, it is in danger of being worn out! There is such depth, such poetry....The images painted with such vividness, you are right there, "The War," witness the awe and disbelief at his brother in camis, "Ride Away" elicits empathy for an outlaw with a conscience who nevertheless feels compelled to carry on, in spite of the consequences. The tender reassurances of a lover in Autumn Blues.... the stark reality of "Lonely Road"....choosing to make your own path, instead of following the beaten path of others, reminiscent of Robert Frost's "The Road Less Traveled By." "Smoke thru the old screen door" is a personal favorite, as everyone has experienced those briefly exciting,transient infatuations, only to recognize it for what it really is, just a little too late..... "Where ya goin'" has an interesting little side story to its origins...ask Eric about it. Ending with "Sun's Gonna Shine," a song of hope... This is a debut album, a stellar example of strong independent songwriting! I understand his 2nd record is coming out sometime this year! Bravo, Eric! Keep them coming! Can't wait to hear your latest creations! BTW: Anyone who has ever bothered to talk with you KNOWS you ooze sincerity, honesty, and authenticity, as well as genuine appreciation for all those artists and EVERYONE who took part in bringing this project to fruition. Obviously, SOME PEOPLE never troubled themselves to make the effort, while others DON'T know how to READ....If they don't agree with a CRITIC's REVIEW,which is usually SIGNED by the writer, they should take it up with the reviewer, not crucify the artist! Acknowledging influences and respect for other artists' work is NOT a claim for equal status; it is a sign of respect, of admiration, of acknowledgement, of validation. IT IS,WHAT IT IS! DEAL WITH IT, PEOPLE! YOUR IGNORANCE IS SHOWING!
Eric Hanke  09/19/2006            
Tony Mc Alister
Love this guy's music! Saw him play this past weekend and really enjoyed his playing style and words. He even made time for me on his break to say hello. Super nice fellow, and very tall too! Sincerely, Tony M.
Eric Hanke  08/16/2006            
Big John
Heard your music a few weeks back, bought a cd and love it, just had trouble playing it in my truck cd player, not sure why, but anyway, I give your cd two tumbs and two big toes, up! Look for me sometimes, I'm the big guy that usually stands in the back, love to drink cheap beer too!
Eric Hanke  08/16/2006            
Amy C.
Was in and out the other night at your Hanover's show, loved what I heard, and can't wait to hear you again this Sunday. Keep up the good work!
Eric Hanke  08/16/2006            
Brad Leese
Awesome singer/songwriter! I have been to a few more than just one of his shows and this guy has talent! His lyrics really hit home for me with truth about life, love, and loss. Anybody that gives this guy a bad review either doesn’t like, nor understand Americana music or they were too drunk at the time to even know anybody was on stage! One last thing, Mr. Hanke is far from arrogant, he lives by his word and is a friend to all. Thanks for all the great times. Keep the tunes coming, peace out. ~Brad
Eric Hanke  08/11/2006            
Janet Erickson
I agree with BC. I saw this dude live. He was very arrogant and annoying. His website bio acclaims him to be the second coming. Note: Don't tell your audience that you are brilliant and don't act like your songs are like that of Dylan. They are not. It is awful. I doubt that BC has Toby Keith in his changer. Toby Keith sucks, but not as bad as Eric Hanke...
Eric Hanke  08/04/2006            
Austin Music Society
Best Americana album of the year by a long shot! This is his first CD, and it's a winner. Keep up the good work Eric, love the music!
Eric Hanke  07/23/2006            
Hankefan
BC: Just put your latest Toby Keith CD back in the changer, and everything will be allright. You clearly can't handle real music.
Eric Hanke  07/13/2006            
BC
bad songwriting, bad guitar playing, bad singing, bad bad bad
Eric Hanke  07/07/2006            
ADabney
Eric is the real deal. He steers clear of Texas Music cliche; he is a true poet and I can shift quite comfortably between his stuff and classic Robert Earl Keen material. Songs like "Autumn Blues" and "Lonely Road" paint a vivid mental picture. Eric shows his sense of humor in "Where You Goin (In E flat)?" I've been following Eric for almost five years now. The album was worth the wait, and it has not left my CD changer since January.
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