Copyright 1996 - Jack Hardy Music
111 E. 14th Street, Suite 300
New York, NY 10003
This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 12/98
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
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A man of letters relatively unknown except to his hardcore fans and those performers to which he has served as equal parts Pied Piper, Father Flanagan and irrespressible rascal, Jack Hardy continues his enchanting blend of poetical art with this latest compelling offering.
An early founder and promoter of the folk music scene in New York City, Hardy presents delicate metaphysical-like musings and gritty societal observations but with a twist--he rarely connects all the dots for the listener. Those wishing to tackle Hardy's music have to work for their reward as the visions and scenarios he presents are generally more translucent than transparent. He permits the passage of light to illuminate the nave in his stories but also bathes the corners in subjective shadow.
The lyrics are on display in any Hardy composition. The music he employs is typically bare, concise but fitting. It is the words that are the prized product and he continues in that vein with this release.
Standouts tracks include "The Halloween Parade," "The 20th Century," "If I Ever Pass This Way Again," and "Dachau."
In "The Halloween Parade," Hardy sings:
"...On this night and this night only
It is the only show in town
We're all of your worst nightmares
We're all of your wildest dreams
The pagans and the gays and the specter of aids
In a riot of color and screams..."
His mordant chorus adds:
"...Here on the Avenue of the Americas
Larger than life behind makeup and mask
Everything America is afraid of
Is lost in a ritualized hell
All so the children won't ask
All so we won't have to tell..."
"The 20th Century," a tune that could easily be adopted into the rock music genre and turned into a fierce anthem, travels back and forth between caustic vehemence and ironic loopiness. Commenting on various aspects of society and humankind, Hardy travels from:
"...The twentieth century is already gone
Come to think of it the millenium is too
All those years and the buck stops here
Except I fear it's not worth as much this year..." to
Two thousand years of the golden rule
We still keep illegal aliens out of school
Someone's gotta wash the dishes and
clean the toilets too
Someone's gotta play football and
someone's gotta sing the blues..." to
"...How we gonna keep 'em down on Broadway
Let's try religion, sports and a lottery a day...".
He finishes with a flourish with:
"...And this is the America Columbus discovered
Yeah the Vikings could have discovered this one too
The Indians fought the Braves in the World Series
Let's get serious and open another brew."
Mixing John Redmond's button accordian into his version of an Irish lament in "If Ever I Pass This Way Again," Hardy utilizes exquisite nuance in detailing the siren songs immersed in our souls that continually call on us to return to our homelands. In his chorus, he captures the earthly elements and connections that draw us back:
"...There are no corners left
There are no stones unturned
That have not all conspired to my return..."
"...And if the water trickles down the glen
And if the moss turns green as light grows thin
And if that flower has the will to live
It will cast its fragrance on the wind..."
"Dachau" takes the listener on a tour of the infamous concentration camp. Hardy's purposeful visit to this hellhole attempts but fails both to conceive how it must have felt to have been a prisoner in such a setting and how such events could have ever taken place:
"...Take all of my money
Take all of my clothing
I still cannot feel it
Or make it a real thing
How one to another
Could ever be so..."
Continuing on with his feelings:
"...I wanted to feel it
That final solution
I want it to touch me
To take me inside
I want it to hold me
I want it to scold me
Make me part of the blame
Why so many died..."
The work here will be a treat for those who prize the written word. Hardy marrys his compositions with germane and enjoyable musical settings but it is his glorious writing that is the prize.
Almost all of Hardy's pieces contain an interesting and standout aspect: the driving intensity and celtic rhythm of "The Passing," the excellent percussion that supports both "Willie Goggin's Hat" and "Morgan's Dance" or the vocal harmonies in "Black-Eyed Susans."
While his voice may be considered raspy and limited at best, it works with his music on this release and never subtracts from his presentation. He is able to create the mood necessary for the overall effectiveness of the compositions.
Hardy utilizes Wendy Beckermann and Louise Taylor on harmony vocals, Jenny Hersch on upright bass, Rob Wolf on acoustic lead guitar, Dave Anthony on drums and percussion, John Redmond on Irish button accordian, and accompanies his own vocals on acoustic guitar and mandolin.
All songs written by Jack Hardy.
Copyright © 1998-2015 Kevin & Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews. All rights reserved.
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