After the success of The Hard Road, the Hilltop Hoods were invited to play with a string quartet at an awards show. They accepted this unusual challenge and were so impressed with how well it worked, they added a string quartet for their next tour. This lead to the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra offering to work with them, and they hit on the idea of creating an orchestral remix album, taking The Hard Road and reworking it to fit a 31-piece classical orchestra. The result could have gone either way, but in the end the mix works better than you might expect. Rather than simply stripping away the beats and dumping classical pomp all over the track, the orchestra demonstrates their ability to groove. For "Conversations from a Speakeasy" the horn section turns jazzy so that it sounds like an actual speakeasy; they also know when not to mess with success and the funky bass of "Clown Prince" remains unaltered. The symphonic backing lends the rapping a gravitas that the lyrics don't always earn, but when they do the effect is impressive. Some changes have been made to the words, including obscuring the swears for the sake of any delicate listeners lured in by the promise of some killer French horn, and new verses have been added to some songs. "Stopping All Stations" has been rewritten so that its murky crime tale has a different and more uplifting ending that, with the swelling violin and flute underneath it, becomes a highlight. A couple of tracks from The Hard Road don't get to be restrung, but nobody is going to miss the embarrassing attempt at a posse cut, "The Blue Blooded." Best of all, the album no longer sounds like a not-quite successful attempt at recapturing the sound of The Calling, but more like an actual step forward for the Hoods.
The Hard Road: Restrung Review
by Jody Macgregor
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