Teaming up with Matt Serletic, a producer who made his name via his work with Collective Soul and especially Matchbox Twenty, Joe Cocker comes up with a clean, shiny machine on Hard Knocks. Despite Cocker's trademark soulful rasp, this isn't an especially warm album. It's bright and bold, as hard and shiny as stainless steel, but there isn't a meanness to it: it's professional to its core, each note polished til it gleams, not one song outside of Cocker's wheelhouse. He pours his passion in, which may not be enough to liven up this buttoned-down upper-crust soul, but it is enough to keep things pleasant.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine