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Good Songs for Hard Times

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Album Review

Together, Tracy Schwarz and Ginny Hawker make a formidable force. Both have long pursued traditional music, Schwarz with the New Lost City Ramblers and Hawker in a duo with Kay Justice. Fans of either singer will be pleased with their new collection. Good Songs for Hard Times offers 15 songs including traditional material and originals by Schwarz. The arrangements are simple, and this allows Schwarz and Hawker's voices to take center stage. "Fog on the Water," as Hawker points out in the liner notes, closely resembles a Carter Family song. The simple guitar runs, harmony in the chorus, and bleak lyrics reinforce this relationship. Schwarz and Hawker's harmony proves perfect in songs like Hank Williams' "Let's Turn Back the Years" and also gives a glimpse of what the song might have sounded like without the advent of honky tonk. Despite the effectiveness of their harmony, Schwarz sings solo on "Time to Sell" and Hawker on the shattering "the Butcher's Boy," bringing variety to the material. This latter song tells the tragic story of a young girl, desolate because of her untrue husband, who hangs herself. The starkness of the lyrics on Good Songs for Hard Times also point to a sensibility associated with an earlier time. In both "Precious Jewel" and "Fog on the Water," a narrator remembers a lost love, taken away too soon; "32 Acres" bemoans having one's land forcefully taken by the government to make a highway. Schwarz and Hawker present this material so movingly that these songs and their sensibility continue to resonate today. Good Songs for Hard Times is a fine accomplishment and a mature artistic statement. ~ Ronnie Lankford, Jr., Rovi


Genre: Country

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Ginny Hawker's expressions of vocal honesty and soulfulness are part of the foundation that have united bluegrass, gospel, honky tonk, and old-time music in rural America. In the bluegrass arena that was long dominated by male voices, Hawker expresses deep feelings that share both the sorrows and joys of a simpler life. Singing tenor to the combined rhythms of banjos, mandolins, and fiddles, Hawker blends her words with a tonal truth. Hawker was influenced over several decades by the songs and...
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Good Songs for Hard Times, Ginny Hawker
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