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: