Hard Times No More strives to bring you the latest reviews of Americana, alt-country, traditional country, folk, and newgrass albums and shows – with a few rants on the side about all that’s wrong with today’s mainstream country radio.

One way or the other, 2013 was a big year for roots music. On the sad hand, Luke Bryan partied his way to Entertainer of the Year, Florida Georgia Line sang rapped the year’s biggest country song pop sham, Blake Shelton also replaced his singing with hiphop, and the legendary George Strait broke our hearts by kicking off his well-earned retirement tour. But on the other hand, giving hope to real music, Kacey Musgraves exploded onto the charts with her main label debut, Jason Isbell put out one of the greatest albums ever, Sturgill Simpson introduced a traditional revival, Guy Clark kept doin’ what he’s been doin’ for decades, and Emmylou Harris, Brandy Clark, and Holly Williams all gave us amazing albums. Out of that confusing quagmire, Hard Times No More was born to help sort it all out.

All posts are by Nathan Empsall unless otherwise specified. Born in Texas, high school in Idaho, and have kicked around New Hampshire, Louisiana, Nebraska, Virginia, and DC, with Connecticut coming soon. I can strum a couple chords and have sung in my share of choirs, but I’m no professional. This is a music site written by a fan for fans, because isn’t it about time you could read a music critic who thinks like you do? I strive to know what I’m talking about most of the time, but no one’s paying me. For what it’s worth, I’m also inclined to only post positive reviews – that doesn’t mean I’ll say nice things about every album, just that if I don’t like it, I won’t review it. My primary goal is shaping up to be introducing people to new music they’ll love (with the occasional dig at Brantley Gilbert or Jerrod Niemann thrown in).

The name “Hard Times No More” comes from the 1854 Stephen Foster song, “Hard Times Come Again No More.” Terry Jones of North Idaho College taught me that there are only two real strains of purely American music – that influenced by folk legend Foster, and that influenced by blues legend Robert Johnson. Foster’s “Hard Times Come Again No More,” which calls on us to remember the poor and down-on-their-luck, may not be as famous as it was 150 years ago, but it certainly should be:


    1. Hey there! Normally I’d happily say yes, but looking y’all up on ReverbNation and YouTube, I think you’re a little jazzier than most of the stuff I listen to. Not that I don’t enjoy and respect jazz, but for reviewing, it’s a little outside my wheelhouse – I wouldn’t do you justice. But I wish you the best of luck!!!


  1. HI Nathan,

    My band, Big Shoals, is releasing our new album “Hard Lessons” on July 15th, and I’m working on rounding up any press/radio promotion I can get to help push the album. I couldn’t be more proud of the way it’s turned out, and would love if you’d take a listen. We were fortunate enough to have Todd Beene, who’s played with Glossary, Lucero and Chuck Ragan, record the pedal steel on 4 songs (“Only Queen,” “The Fall,” “Union Son,” and “Only God Knows”), which have become some of my favorites. Also, behind the board and on drums was Ryan Williams, who’s recently worked with Chuck Ragan on some of his latest projects. Below are links to stream and download the album as well as a link to an in studio video of “Union Son”. I’d be more than happy to mail you a CD and/or a link for a full download as well if you’d like. I’ve also included a short description of what was going on with us throughout the recording process. If you have any questions, feel free to ask. I hope you enjoy the album and look forward to hearing from you. Email me at bigshoalsband@gmail.com


    Lance Howell


    Album Stream:


  2. Hey there,

    Hope you’re well!

    I wanted to send indie folk singer songwriter David Trull’s forthcoming full length Coin Toss your way, because I thought you might dig it! You can check out the latest single from the album, “Dark Magic,” here-

    “Dark Magic” Premiere – https://ouchthathertz.com/2016/05/19/exclusive-premiere-stream-david-trulls-dark-magic/

    Soundcloud – https://soundcloud.com/david-trull-680115530/sets/coin-toss

    Let me know if you have any thoughts! If you’re interested, just let me know and I’ll send the album over!



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