Hard Times was released on January 1, 2010 by Texas singer-songwriters Adam Carroll and Michael O’Connor. I’m pretty well acquainted with the former as the laconic, yet sharp witted songwriter who writes the funniest folk songs this side of Todd Snider. And while I haven’t heard of O’Connor before, his contributions to this record are outstanding and suggests that O’Connor may be yet another hidden gem from Texas. A former sideman for Carroll as well as other Texas singer-songwriters including Said Cleaves, O’Connor’s guitar work on Hard Times is expectedly . However, it’s his soulful vocals and songwriting that are the real revelation here though. His bourbon soaked voice provides a great counter to Carroll’s rather distinctive story telling style, often recalling a dryer Grayson Capps. Plus his songwriting is top notch and it would have to be if you are sharing album space with Carroll.
The two have come together to create a complete album, that cycles through various down-on-their-luck characters. And from the opening stomp of the “New Year’s Eve” to the closing “Gulf Coast Losers”, they sketch characters both sad and funny, yet distinctly regional in flavor. Whether its failing or succeeding with the girls in New Orleans or drinking at an empty bar in Galveston, the characters ring as true as those of Larry McMurtry or perhaps more appropriately those of Robert Earl Keen’s “Corpus Christi Bay”.
Carroll and O’Connor don’t limit themselves to whiskey and women as they write about the current ‘Hard Times’. Songs like “Throw A Nickel” and the title track, alternate between humorous and serious takes on current economic hardships. There aren’t any anthems here, but there aren’t any throw aways either. Highly recommended for fans of Prine, Snider, Jerry Jeff Walker, or Guy Clark.
Stream the record here
“As we pause in life’s pleasures and count its many tears
Let us all taste the hungers of the poor.
There’s a song that will linger forever in our ears:
Hard times, come again no more.”
-Stephen Foster “Hard Times”
About the author: Specializes in Dead, Drunk, and Nakedness..... Former College Radio DJ and Current Craft Beer Nerd