Bob Wayne – Till the Wheels Fall Off (Music Review)

Till the Wheels Fall Off cover

Bob Wayne – Till the Wheels Fall Off

Since reviewing Bob Wayne’s Outlaw Carnie, I’ve wondered if I was too harsh on it. My general opinion holds true: He has a good country sound, if a little rough and obviously metal-influenced. And while some of the songs are fun, the overall impression is that of a boorish party animal who’s more interested in telling you how he wins all his fights than in reflecting real life. Despite that, I do keep going back to the best songs, because they’re worth listening to. The album as a whole is obnoxious, but the standouts arguably redeem it. I bought his latest release, Till the Wheels Fall Off, to give him another chance. Unfortunately, this one sees Wayne doubling down on the outlaw posturing, and is definitely a lesser work than Outlaw Carnie.

Part of Wayne’s problem is that his vocals aren’t singing so much as a country affectation and exaggerated quaver. It’s not out of bounds by the standards of harder underground country, but it definitely makes it easy to question his authenticity when the songs get a little unbelievable. This happens with tracks like “There Ain’t No Diesel Trucks in Heaven”, which can’t seem to decide whether that’s supposed to be a relief for weary truck drivers, or a curse. A couple songs about killing drug dealers and rapists barely even try to establish a plot or characters; Wayne sounds too eager to get to the vengeful fantasies.

I just have to laugh at “Fuck the Law”, in which he complains that the government is against him just for “writing and living these songs”. In another song he claims that he’s shot at cops for fun, so I have to agree that living out his songs would be a problem. Maybe that gets to the root of the matter: There’s nothing wrong with living vicariously through songs (even if I do complain about how one-dimensional these get at time), but there’s a confusing mix of reality, too: As far as I can remember from a live recording a while back, “Fuck the Law” was a real response to him being barred from Canada. So it’s real, but the idea that he’s “living” these songs in general is a delusion.

As I said before, the best songs are very good in isolation. “Devil’s Son” is the most fun example of claims to bad-assery, and “All Those One Night Stands” comes close if you can forget that he already covered similar territory with “Chatterbox”. “Lost Vegas” and “Hunger in My Soul” show that he can write moody, somber songs when he wants to. They’re still odes to sin, of course. Don’t expect any of the reflection from his previous highlight, “Blood to Dust”. The only one that tries at that is “Wives of Three”, a surprising song about a polygamist begging his mother to accept him for who he is. In different hands, that would be a touching character study with an unusual point of view. In the context of this album, though, it’s hard to believe that Wayne isn’t really cheering at the idea of having someone having his own little harem.

I still want to like Wayne, and it looks like every album will have a couple tracks good enough to give me hope. He’s heading in the wrong direction, though.

Grade: D+

 
Advertisements
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: