Eric Hanke – Factory Man (album review)

Eric Hanke – Factory Man (Ten Foot Texan) CD review Austin songwriter Eric Hanke isn’t a household name, and he’s not on a big record label.  Yet, he’s managed to do something that a whole lot of people with much larger budgets have failed to do:  make an album that’s damn-near perfect.  Modern day folks who feel that everything has to have a label might call it Americana, but to me, Factory Man is just good music  – the way it used to be played; crafted on the back porch, and tested in the bars. There’s elements of country, rock, folk, and even some soul thrown in for good measure.

Hanke’s got an easy-going voice that’s immediately likeable, with just a hint of twang.  His melodies are warm and memorable, while his lyrics are where he really shines.  He conjures up images of everyday life that somehow are neither cheesy nor over-wrought, yet sound very real.  Plenty of songs have been written about the plight of the American auto worker, but none more poignant without being sappy than Hanke’s “Factory Man,” which chronicles the true tale of his grandfather losing his job after the auto plant where he worked outsourced jobs overseas.  Another fine example is the father-to-son tale “Hope Your Dreams Come True,” again – in someone else’s hands, a dad handing down an old baseball glove could come off as schmaltzy, but Hanke truly makes it feel genuine.

The disc opens with the great rocker “It Ain’t Really Love” and never loses focus – there’s truly not a bad song on the entire record.  Part of the credit goes to how these songs are presented — pedal steel, slide guitar, Hammond organ, and piano help embellish these tunes with just enough spice to make each one unique, and the production is earthy and clean.  Very enjoyable. – Tony Peters