The White Line to Success


Joe Hanna

By David Lilly

Somehow the shadow of John Mellencamp is cast on this CD. Joe Hanna certainly looks nothing like Mellencamp. The Louisville songwriter's voice doesn't sound like the former Mr. Cougar's voice, although judging from the music here, Hanna's music just as versatile. Not to mention that, to my knowledge, Hanna hasn't survived a heart attack and kept on smoking. The shadow might not even be real. It may be an illusion because these songs sound personal and Hanna apparently painted them with the brush of a maverick.

The "maverick" quality shines most obviously in lines like, "I've taken a beating all of my life/And mister you'd better believe me when I say/I did it all in my kind of way," from "Grounded." After that, "Idle Hands" stands out because it sounds like some kind of Civil War song. Maybe it's the mandolin or the subdued-march tempo (a Johnny Rebel Mellencamp shadow?). The lone rebel appears again in the anthemic "Cincinnati Highway," with a painful vision of "screaming through the trees as the rain fell on me" accentuating the theme of isolation and hard times.

All in all, Hanna's disc is polished and mainstream enough to chart some success. Check him out at