10 Songs, 34 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Slightly bigger and brassier than Clint Black’s first two albums, The Hard Way marks a subtle but crucial evolution in the singer’s style — a shift best symbolized by the album’s cover, a goofy photo of Black mugging for the camera in cheesecake cowboy garb. The material is far from corny, but songs like “We Tell Ourselves,” “Something to Cry About” and “When My Ship Comes In” are brighter and more driving than Black’s previous folk-oriented style. Fans loved Black’s newfound confidence, and the success of the aforementioned songs caused the singer to explore new ways of blending modern country techniques with his patented acoustic-based approach. That method is represented by “The Hard Way,” “Buying Time” and “Burn One Down,” plainly strummed acoustic songs that are embellished by James Stroud’s production touches — specifically a chorus of back-up singers and hefty drums. As has become his custom, Black closes the album with a beautifully crafted piece of bluegrass — anyone who doubts his commitment to taste and craft need only listen once to “Wake Up Yesterday.”

EDITORS’ NOTES

Slightly bigger and brassier than Clint Black’s first two albums, The Hard Way marks a subtle but crucial evolution in the singer’s style — a shift best symbolized by the album’s cover, a goofy photo of Black mugging for the camera in cheesecake cowboy garb. The material is far from corny, but songs like “We Tell Ourselves,” “Something to Cry About” and “When My Ship Comes In” are brighter and more driving than Black’s previous folk-oriented style. Fans loved Black’s newfound confidence, and the success of the aforementioned songs caused the singer to explore new ways of blending modern country techniques with his patented acoustic-based approach. That method is represented by “The Hard Way,” “Buying Time” and “Burn One Down,” plainly strummed acoustic songs that are embellished by James Stroud’s production touches — specifically a chorus of back-up singers and hefty drums. As has become his custom, Black closes the album with a beautifully crafted piece of bluegrass — anyone who doubts his commitment to taste and craft need only listen once to “Wake Up Yesterday.”

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