By now, invoking the name of country music’s most hallowed son, Hank Williams, is a surefire way to either establish your honky-tonk bonafides (if you’re good), or splatter egg all over your face (if you’re not). This impulse to situate oneself within country music’s grand lineage using ol’ Hank’s ghost as a springboard is nothing new; his own friends name-checked him aplenty, and Hank’s own son, Hank Williams Jr. (or Bocephus, if you’re of a certain age) turned it into sort of ham-fisted art form. For better or worse, the eternally 29-year-old’s name has become shorthand for “old school,” for “pure country,” and for “the way things were back in the day”
However, on Texas-raised, Denver-based traditional country singer Leslie Tom’s new album, Ain’t It Something, Hank Williams (her first in 12 years), she draws upon the memory and music of Hank Williams in a way that feels refreshing and new. Her debut LP dropped in 2006. and was followed by two shorter EPs; she’s currently running a PledgeMusic pre-order campaign for the new album, that promises to donate a portion of the pre-sales to Eli’s Fund, a nonprofit run by the Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. Ain’t It Something, Hank Williams may have a heart of gold, but to hear Tom sing it, that heart has also been to hell and back.