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It's Hard to Tell the Singer from the Song

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Album Review

It's Hard to Tell the Singer from the Song is a beautiful, emotionally raw album from start to finish. Throughout, Dickens creates a music that's traditional and timeless, while also having her feet firmly planted in the here and now. Traditional country songs like "California Cottonfields" clearly share an affinity for the working person, while Dylan's "Only a Hobo" reveals the sacredness of even the "lowliest" life. Dickens also enjoys singing feminist-tinged songs like "You'll Get No More of Me" and the anti-war anthem "Will Jesus Wash the Bloodstains From Your Hands?" Dickens seems to enjoy updating tradition, drawing from her West Virginia background while adding political touches usually absent from folk and country music. Part of the success of this project is that excellent musicians like Jerry Douglas, Russ Barenberg, and Blaine Sprouse offer tasteful support throughout. Dickens' voice also proves a perfect instrument to communicate the stark lyrics of songs like "Hills of Home." Her delivery has more in common with the Carter Family than contemporary bluegrass and country singing, and her old-time vocals add to the emotional impact of this material. Songs like "Hills of Home" and "A Few Old Memories" deal with the sense of loss that comes from leaving behind familiar places like a childhood home. "Play Us a Waltz" sketches a portrait from inside a nursing home, "where there's no one to love, and nothing to do." The characters that inhabit It's Hard to Tell the Singer from the Song long for a sense of place in the modern world and cry out for compassion and understanding. This is powerful album and a mature artistic statement. ~ Ronnie Lankford, Jr., Rovi


Born: 01 June 1935 in Mercer County, WV

Genre: Country

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Protest and folksinger Hazel Dickens grew up the eighth of 11 children in a large, poor mining family in West Virginia, and she used elements of country and bluegrass to spread truth about two causes close to her heart: the plight of non-unionized mineworkers and feminism, born not of the '60s movement but traditional values. Born June 1, 1935, in Mercer County, West Virginia, Dickens learned about music from her father, an occasional banjo player and Baptist minister who drove trucks for a mining...
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It's Hard to Tell the Singer from the Song, Hazel Dickens
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