Hank Wangford and Noel Dashwood “Promises, Promises”

Sincere Sounds, 2023

Atmospheric Hawaiian-influenced roots country features characteristic wry humour from Wangford and fine dobro from duo partner Dashwood.

Hank Wangford–the performing alter-ego of  Dr. Sam Hutt–will need no introduction to many readers, as a home-grown pioneer in the world of American roots and country music, with a special attachment to songs that keep it simple, and tug at the heartstrings, with his characteristic humour and love for the genre. With some ten albums, and countless gigs, under his belt since setting out on the road in 1980, Wangford has charmed audiences with his self-penned songs, with lineups including the Hank Wangford Band and Hank Wangford and the Lost Cowboys. In this his latest release Wangford teams up with dobro player Noel Dashwood, having played with him as a duo since before the Covid era, for a stripped-back collection recorded live, with Wangford on his Gretsch Double Anniversary guitar and Dashwood on ukelele bass, who later added dobro, lap steel and harmonica.

Musical collaborations have featured large in Wangford’s career, including touring with Billy Bragg in the 1980s and joining Andy Roberts and Reg Meuross on the ‘No Hall Too Small’ tour, taking in over 200 venues between 2007 and 2010. But it was an encounter with Gram Parsons that introduced Wangford to the “dark soul lurking in country music”, and a song first heard from him ‘Image of Me’ by Wayne Kemp, and recorded by Conway Twitty, is the only cover in the eleven-song collection, the rest all self-penned, with ‘Simple Pleasures’ a co-write with Reg Meuross.

The first six songs are badged as ‘Toetappers’, with the following five as ‘Heartbreakers’, but in truth, even if the first set is more up-tempo, they all share a heartbreak view of the world. Opening track ‘Way of the World‘ sets the tone as Wangford sings “Sun is shining/ sky is blue/ but look out for the cloud that’s gonna rain on you/that’s the way/the way of the world”.

Dashwood references the influence of Bashful Brother Oswald, a country giant of the dobro who fused country and Hawaiian in his playing with Roy Acuff’s Smoky Mountain Boys, and Dashwood’s dobro gives a distinctly Hawaiian flavour to many of the tracks. 

Oil’ features one of Wangford’s classic internal rhymes “the Sheik of Abu Dhabi’s looking pretty good and happy with it all” in a tongue-in-cheek ode to how we can’t live without it, but it will be the end of us too.

Wangford describes ‘Fingers’ with its uptempo two-step beat as “Redneck philosophy” with “the only thing I count on is my fingers/ the only thing I bet on is my ass”, while he writes that ‘Slippin’ Whisky’ which opens the ‘Heartbreakers’ is inspired by his experience of working for five months as a doctor in the 1970’s among Ukrainian and Norwegian immigrants and indigenous Northern Cree in the “table flat” Saskatchewan prairies.

A chilled and charming collection capturing the spirit of roots country from Wangford and Dashwood.


About David Jarman 111 Articles
Long time fan of Americana genre, from early days of Ry Cooder, through to today's thriving scene. Regular visitor to USA ( Nashville/Austin/Memphis/LA ) live music junkie, I play guitar, mandolin, harmonica, plus vocals, run monthly jam session in Broadstairs
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Andy Trott

This looks like it’s going to be a charming album. Funnily enough i know more about Noel Dashwood having seen him play with the trio Alden Patterson& Dashwood a number of times and via the three albums he recorded (“By the night”,”waterbound” & “Alden,Patterson & Daswood”)The duo as they are now, are well worth checking out creating a beautiful folk/roots sound (“Hunter”). Dashwood is a fine player and this will be a worthy album.