CD / LP (180g vinyl incl. CD)
Cool songs, deep slide guitar playing, fat grooves, foot-stompers, finger-snappers, vocals in three different languages and a voice that keeps getting better and better. Breather features 12 brand new studio tracks, eight of which are original works. The covers show the wide range of material Hank is interested in: First we have Adriano Celentano’s “Svalutation”, originally recorded in 1976. It is a song about economic crisis seen from an Average Joe perspective. The lyrics could have been written last week… This boisterous cover version is the first time Hank sings in Italian. As if that wasn’t enough there is also a french song on Breather: Jacques Dutronc’s “Et moi, et moi, et moi” (1966) features deadpan lyrics delivered over a dry no-frills beat. Hank has performed this song regularly during his solo tours in 2008 and 2009. The third cover version makes the jump over the big water and heads to California where the ever so eccentric David Lindley wrote about the changing anatomy of male humans in their fifties. “When A Guy Gets Boobs” mixes witty and funny lyrics with a mean, lowdown dirty boogie beat and plenty of wicked slide guitar playing. Finally we have “One Cup Of Coffee And A Cigarette” by the obscure rockabilly singer Jerry Irby. Hank found this song in an episode of Bob Dylan’s Theme Time Radio Hour and immediately knew he had to cover it, “because it’s a fun song and a healthy statement in a time when health obsession becomes the new religion.”
The album’s opener “Two Ways Of Running” mixes malian rhythm influences with a sufi poem by Jelaluddin Rumi. The song also features one of Hank’s best performances on slide guitar ever recorded. “Shaker”, the album’s only “proper” ballad benefits from a fantastic duet vocal by irish singer Shirley Grimes. “Recession Blues” and “Safe New World” are comments on the western world’s obsession with technology and the so called new economy – “and you can tap your foot to those tunes, too”, Hank adds wryly. “Only In America” was written around the time of Michael Jackson’s death in 2009. Hank comments: “The coverage in the media was just stunningly dumb. Journalists interviewing each other and asking themselves how the mood of the people in the street was, a revolting spectacle. Meanwhile a golden casket was on display in an arena in Los Angeles, televised live. In those days there was also the famous press conference where Sarah Palin stepped down as Governor of Alaska. It was a dadaistic performance. I kept thinking that it was really sad to witness what this great country has come to be, where millions of people believe in a person who is so obviously out of her fucking mind.” “Not In Vain” finds Hank digging up his blues roots. “I Still Want You” is a stompin’ rocker that speaks for itself and features another fine slide guitar performance. “Split The Loot” started out as a hawaiian lap steel ditty and there was no need to change the mood of that tune when going into the studio.
Hank Shizzoe produced, sang and played all the guitar parts on Breather as well as banjo, bouzouki, lap steels, piano and “lots of organ hooks.” Long time companions Michel Poffet and Christoph Beck join in on upright bass and drums. The album was mastered by Oli Boesch.