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HARDY presents two separate but equal musical personalities

The Troubadour and The Roxy, West Hollywood, Cal., January 23, 2023

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

You might say Hardy's live celebration of his just-released "the mockingbird & THE CROW" was a tale of two Hardys. He began the evening by performing the album's (mostly) country-er songs at The Troubadour, then relocated to The Roxy Theatre to rock out (once again, mostly) on the release's louder material. It found Hardy fully in his element in both cases.

While Hardy performed at The Troubadour, he wore his trademark trucker hat. However, when he reappeared at The Roxy Theatre, he went cap-less so he could swing his relatively long hair all around while he performed. He was, though, the same Hardy – no matter how high or low the volume may have been. Hardy writes perceptive songs about good and bad guys, all from a deeply Southern perspective. This split personality is merely an instance of two sonic passions in play.

Highlights at The Troubadour set included his Lainey Wilson-less performance of the hit "Wait in the Truck," which had the audience singing along loudly with every word, as well as the title cut. In the latter, Hardy took the air out of his chosen profession – that of songwriter – by admitting he's "singing songs that sound like other songs you've heard." In other words, he's a musical mockingbird. And yes, it's impossible, after these many years of recorded music, to not sometimes sound like someone else at times.

However, the most important nuance any singer/songwriter can add to the music is in putting his/her own fingerprint on these words and melodies. Hardy, most significantly, is like nobody else. He performed this song accompanied only by his own electric guitar. When he kicked off his Roxy set, he sang the rocking "THE CROW," which explores Hardy's individuality.

Hardy and his three backing musicians took The Roxy stage to the audience chant of, "Hardy! Hardy! Hardy!" His setlist included all but one song from his latest release. That exception was "Boots," a recollection about getting drunk, then going to bed and waking up still wearing cowboy boots. When he declared how he's never been a sell out during "Sold Out," he did so with true believable authority.

Aspiring Southern musicians usually dream of either being a country singer or a rock star. Hardy likely dreamed both these scenarios growing up. Now, he's living out each of them; both genres on the same album. At the same time. He looks well on his way to becoming a star in both styles, without any signs of slowing down. Tonight was a night to appreciate each side of Hardy's fruitful musical personality.

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
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