Bad HombrePeople Like You Records
By Cole Faulkner
Alright, let’s talk about Bob Wayne. For those unfamiliar, he’s a one of a kind hillbilly country act that revels in his outsider status. Wayne’s the type of guy that would hunt a possum with a shotgun and choke down every last ounce of lead. His appeal lies with his brash punk attitude and undeniably off-tune, lively humour. Everything’s fair game to Wayne and nothing’s sacred. Drawing upon inspiration lifted from his own checkered past, to tall tales of car chases and border hopping run-ins with the law, Wayne offers an escape from the everyday, and a window into backwoods hillbilly living.
Wayne’s latest full length, Bad Hombre, picks up where Back To The Camper left off. Opener “Hell Yeah” sets off in an off-key hootenanny, complete with fun loving fiddle work, bursts of banjo, and a trotting, thumping bass grove. The mid-tempo tune humorously characterizes the regular fallout incurred by Wayne for his various overindulgences. The track largely characterizes Wayne’s ongoing approach to country songwriting, which actually stands in stark contrast to the frequent use of pedal steel that tends to run through Bad Hombre. Quite a number of tracks gravitate towards a mellow, washed sunset country vibe. “Mr. Bandana” and “Still Truckin” in particular lay a relaxed foundation, the former featuring a familiar male-female duet style that fits the rebel-in-a-relationship tale of outlaw affection, and the latter capturing Wayne’s 18 wheeler lone wolf persona. “Hangin’s Tree” in particular takes advantage of the subdued tempo to explore the mythos of a particular tree serving as the a final destination for noose-bound sinners.
Generally, the more specific and detail oriented Wayne makes his tales, the more engaging and memorable they land. For instance, “Devil’s Backbone” gives a harsh sense of backwoods desperation incurred by a down-and-out desert community with vivid imagery of “broken fans” and “selling knick knacks for a dollar.” Likewise, “Working Class Musician” offers a strong sense of Wayne’s personal drive to wake up each morning, fully acknowledging the financial limits of his career options, but reinforcing the conviction of his resolve. That being said, on the whole Bad Hombre’s lyrical content seems less specific and more thematically influenced than in past outings. As such, weaker tracks, like “Take Back The USA” and “Fairground In The Sky,” simply pack less of a punch.
All in all, Bob Wayne’s latest full length stacks up well against past efforts. Bad Hombre doesn’t necessarily bring anything new to the table, but like the sturdy rumble of an eighteen wheeler hauling load upon load, night after night, there’s a certain comfort in such unwavering reliability. Wayne’s country loving’ humour remains the star of the show, and in that regard, there’s still plenty of fuel left in Bob Wayne’s tank.