With new male vocalists scaling the charts, Hank Williams Jr. has lost much of his prominence as one of country’s Big Bucks. He’s also lost his creative edge, or so it seems on Maverick, his first effort for the revamped Capricorn Records. Apart from one of his father’s tunes, ”Low Down Blues,” the album contains only two memorable songs and is mostly made up of such dumb stuff as ”Fax Me a Beer,” the musical equivalent of Metamucil: high-impact filler guaranteed to move things right along. Of the two contenders, Junior’s own ”Hotel Whiskey” is the commercial entry, a big, swaggering song of self-mythology, where, with Clint Black along for a stanza or so, Bocephus holds forth on wine, women, debauchery, and the road. There is a gem here, Max D.Barnes and Skip Ewing’s ”Cut Bank, Montana,” a finely wrought tale of love and calamity set in an 1894 Western frame. With this kind of work on the album, Williams should be ashamed to settle for less. Alas, he isn’t. C+

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