Jack Hardy

Collected Works, Vol. 2: 1984-1995

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This second five-CD set presented a mature artist plying his craft on five albums originally released on his own label from 1984-1994. While the albums differed somewhat in approach and instrumentation, in effect any of Hardy's songs could have appeared on any of them. Throughout, the husky-voiced singer picked his acoustic guitar sharply, discoursing on a variety of arcane subjects in songs that often could have been mistaken for traditional ballads of the Middle Ages or the Renaissance. He applied a highly poetic, allusive sense of language to his subject matter, doing so with more interest in the sound of words than clarity of meaning, so that it was easy to listen to several successive songs without having any idea what they were about. Free of any commercial considerations, Hardy could be a demanding writer, not so much in need of a reviewer as of a graduate student's doctoral thesis. Nevertheless, a close listener would find much to appreciate in these folk-rock efforts; Hardy sang feelingly and suggestively, pausing over words and then biting them off, chuckling, or caressing the lyrics in ways that gave them meaning the mere words did not convey. If he was ultimately a poet who wrote his poems for himself with only limited concern for being understood, he was also a singer who put them across effectively. If that meant that, in effect, a lot was liable to get lost in the translation, Hardy's material was still a rich listening experience that often rewarded the effort needed to appreciate it.

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