Various Artists: The Lost Notebooks of Hank Williams

Various Artists
The Lost Notebooks of Hank Williams
(Columbia)

The Lost Notebooks of Hank Williams is precisely what it sounds like. This is a collection of songs culled from dusted-off journals written by the legend himself.

This slate of ‘new’ songs is based on notes made by Williams that were found in his leather briefcase following his death. It’s a star-studded affair to be sure, one that is flawlessly executed to the point that you might think these are original compositions by those artist performing them, though Williams’ timeless, undying breath, presence and spirit can be felt throughout each and every cut comprising the Lost Notebooks of Hank Williams.

It’d be hard to get a better roster of vocal talent than the one assembled for the Lost Notebooks of Hank Williams.A collection essentially spearheaded and ultimately fleshed-out by another lifelong troubadour, Bob Dylan, who’s “the Love that Faded” is one of the album’s best tracks. Dylan’s memorable ravaged vocal delivery gives the song its life, while another Dylan, son Jakob, takes the sweet, lullaby route on “Oh, Mama, Come Home.” Speaking of family, Williams’ granddaughter Holly makes an appearance on the Lost Notebooks of Hank Williams with the song “Blue Is My Heart,” a wonderful track in its own right, though the vocal look of her grandfather lurking in the background does more harm than good. The opening Alan Jackson track, “You’ve Been Lonesome, Too” is near brilliance, a track in which Williams’ influence can be felt through each steel guitar note and every fiddle strum. The Vince Gill-Rodney Crowell duet “I Hope You Shed a Million Tears” sets a melancholy mood, while there isn’t a better closing opus than Merle Haggard’s “the Sermon on the Mount.”

While Williams himself doesn’t appear on the Lost Notebooks of Hank Williams, his massive presence can be felt, and you have to think that he is somewhere looking down on this project with a smile on his face.