I like to have these “best of” repost features to be mostly about sleepers. No one record is sleeping as soundly as Hard Times by the duo of Adam Carroll and Michael O’Connor. Pick any song on the record and you’ll get moments of sheer poetic beauty.
I know that as a roots rock fan I should be bowing down to the alter of Ray Wylie Hubbard right about now. But I’d rather point out a record that tackles it’s subject with a relentless energy and one track mind and one that will no doubt be overshadowed by the new Ray Wylie Hubbard. That record is the new one from Adam Carroll and Michael O’Connor called Hard Times. The result of their collaboration on this song cycle is a concept record that succeeds on a number of levels: lyrically, musically, and thematically.
If you remember your 8th grade research paper than you’ll remember your teacher imploring you to narrow down your topic. Here’s what she probably said: “No, baseball is not a good topic”, “No, the Texas Rangers doesn’t count”, and finally “Yes, a statistical evaluation of Nolan Ryan’s no-hitters will work.”
I think Adam Carroll and Michael O’Connor must have gone through the same process. First they probably thought about doing a record about the recession, then narrowed it down to hard times in Texas, and then narrowed it even further geographically to the Gulf Coast of Texas and then finally to a very particular creature: the “Gulf Coast Losers”.
I suppose this song cycle written and sung by any other artist might be seen as insensitive, crass, and/or exploitative. But these songs are so expertly wrought in such fine detail that I figure at least half of them are autobiographical in nature. And the other half, while flights of imagination, are fine examples of the state we’re all in. Plus at least half of these sad sacks are lovable losers. The other half are simply contending with a miserable economy compounded by their own poor decisions.
Sampling of just some of the deft lyrics:
“One eyed Wanda said she’d pass the jar up and down the bar, she said she’d shake it like she did when she had the other eye”
“I’m tired of myself, tired of pissing through the same small hole”
“With a bar tab twice as long as Billy Gibbons beer”
“The president said we’d all be fine if we bend all over and take it up the behind”
When I asked to post a song from this record Adam Carroll suggested “Bernadine”. I wish I could share the 10 other songs with you as well. They’re that good. Buy the whole record here via Lone Star Music.