Ryan Humbert's Hangman starts off like a standard-issue singer-songwriter disc, but immediately gets much more interesting. The Akron native is a DJ for the wonderfully eclectic WAPS-FM 91.3, and his expertise with adult-oriented rock is obvious. Humbert also recruited some big-league talent of his own for his second album. He's backed by Columbus's Andy Carlson, a guitarist-violinist-mandolin-player who has performed on albums by R.E.M., the Cowboy Junkies, and Nanci Griffith.
Hangman plays like an hour of Humbert's radio station, moving through a series of genres that are adjacent to pop, but don't get mass airplay. The lurching "Souvenir" rumbles from surf guitar to rockabilly. "Can't Beat the Devil" is swinging, boogie-woogie country. After the tear-in-your-beer ballad "White Lies," the disc gets loud again with the electric white blues of "Redemption." "When you're staring down the barrel of a gun, you're gonna need redemption," drawls Humbert. After this disc, he has nothing to atone for.