After flirting with the mainstream (A full band? An established record label?), Butch Hancock, perhaps the last true Texas troubadour, is back. This solo, all-acoustic affair is a real work of beauty, tying together Hancock's love of wordplay with a true reverence and awe for the simple things. "Barefoot Prints" is a lovely ode to love itself, and, along with "All Curled Up" and "Naked Light of Day" forms a suite of sorts - an exploration of a long-lasting love and the wonder that such a phenomenon can bring.
Other songs bring out Hancock's brutal wit. The man who turned the line "Welcome to the real world, kid" into a horrible knockout punch on his last album, "Eats Away The Night" now talks about an ill-fated series of romance clashes as "one good time....after another" with the same abandon.
True fans of Texas songcraft know Hancock from being in the legendary Flatlanders with Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Joe Ely. He produces, but his touch is exceedingly light. Hancock has outdone himself in this go-round. This is a Hancock project first and foremost and may just stand as one of the best albums this year - not to mention the artist's body of work. (Rainlight Records, Box 468, Terlingua, TX 79852)