Album Review: Hans Wenzel – Greyhound 77
Country music has a lot of interesting wrinkles that define it. Sometimes it’s just a twang or intonation, other times it’s a full song structure that makes it country. When it comes to Hans Wenzel’s country music, I’m pretty sure it’s his heart. I mean – we could just as easily say he’s a Bruce Springsteen style rocker. In either description, country or rock, we get the connotation that Wenzel is raw, real, and the kind of guy who puts his boots on one leg at a time.
The opener “Up from the Ground” gives us a sense of Wenzel’s attitude and style right away. It’s hard hitting and a story of perseverance. It’s the kind of song that give the listener a kick in the pants to approach the difficulties of life. The song is a nice capture of countrified rock music that is surely palatable for a lot of music fans, especially in the U.S.
Title track “Greyhound 77” is an interesting song. Crafted with a blues core and some killer chord changes, the song feels timeless. There are indications of the deep south and travel forging a fresh, new identity. It’s about travelling on a bus but it’s also about these various places changing the way we feel and understand life. “Western carolina calls my name…” punctuates a final sense of home.
“The River” is a downtempo song, which comes as a nice change of pace. The “river that flows” lyric puts me in mind of Garth Brooks’ song by the same name. The instrumental break is really nice and the organ does great work to set the mood of the song. It all comes together for a great production that’s easily listenable. The message is more existential than it might seem at first blush, asking questions about survival, death, and ultimately endurance. It’s good stuff.
“Sunday Morning” is a little more of what you might call a traditional “acoustic” song. It’s definitely southern and quintessentially American. There’s a blue collar sensibility to the song that I really like. It puts me in mind of something that lyrically, at least, could have been written by John Fogerty. “Lucius” is an interesting acoustic tune as well. It shows off a side of Wenzel that feels more like the early 90s than the timeless rock-inspired country from the early part of the album. That said, the complicated song structure is really intriguing. It’s about a difficult friendship, but it’s written in such a way that anyone can listen and enjoy. “We took all the pain and washed it away with the rest…” It’s deeply human and seems to have layers of intrigue.
This little album deserves your attention. Wenzel is a talented songwriter with an always-reaching vocal. His songs are satisfying in a few different ways. Fans of 90s rock and country music will like multiple songs on the album. If you’re a fan of Bruce Springsteen or other enthusiastic “sing with a purpose” musicians up through the 90s alt rock scene, this is a great album for you.