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St Petersburg Times
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Weekly Planet "Best of the Bay" NEW 10/27/00
DAVE HARDIN, NINE YEARS ALONE.
Dave Hardin, Nine Years Alone *** (out of ****)
5/4/00 DAVE HARDIN
Nine Years Alone
Nearing 39 years old, Palm Harbor’s Dave Hardin is not quite a decade into his musical career, yet he has independently released an album that surpasses most anything you’ll hear from more established singer/songwriters on Rounder and other labels. Over 11 memorable songs, Hardin displays a melodic ingenuity that surpasses the folkie crowd, and a flair for capturing glimpses of real life and turning them into compelling song-stories. The title tune, written as a kind of an apology to his young son, will surely wrench the gut of anyone who put a small child through a divorce. “And sometimes I catch him lookin’ old/ too tired to smile much/ and his hair needs combed.” Although most of Hardin’s lyrics are plainspoken, he has knack for metaphor. “’Cause scrapes are slow to heal/ When you’re sleepin’ on your side/ And there’s a queen size wall between us/ A stronger man could climb,” he sings about a flagging marriage. Hardin delivers these insights in a seductively tuneful rasp with a hint of twang from his younger days in small-town Kentucky and suburban Cincinnati. While some of the songs feature only acoustic guitar backing, most are outfitted with understated arrangements of subtly textured electric six-strings, minimal keyboards, slurry bass, occasional harmonica, and in the case of “There’s You,” some sumptuous background harmonies. Hardin’s local profile has been steadily rising over the last couple of years, but even so, Nine Years Alone is nothing short of a revelation.
by: Eric Snider
Best of the Bay 2000
Best CD: Dave Hardin 'Nine Years Alone'
"In these high tech times, music from the heart is hard to find. It's a
risky endeavor. Threadbare honesty can make people squirm in an
increasingly superficial, cynical world. That's why Hardin's Nine
Years Alone is such a rare and beautiful thing. The Palm Harbor
singer/songwriter does not concern himself with posturing or attitude; he
concentrates on the small events and images that make up a life. With a
seductively raspy voice, he sings of the unspoken walls between married
couples; the effects of divorce on his young son; a tree that gets chopped
up and hauled away, its rings forging a family legacy. Hardin decorates
these tales with snapshots of small-town life -- broken down cars, IGA
supermarkets, cold October rain -- raising them above cliches. Nine Years
Alone transcends the folkie ethos with fully drawn melodies and sensitive
arrangements. This disc deserves to be heard -- well beyond the
boundaries of the Bay."
Best of the Bay 1998
Dave Hardin: Best Singer/Songwriter
Combining an earthy directness akin to Steve Earle, a touch of the late Jeff Buckley's other-worldliness,balanced with a bit of, say, Dan Fogelberg'ssweetness and light, Hardin's catalog of 150 plus originals run the range from vivid recounts of his own childhood in Kentucky to dreams involving overheard flirtations between Pharaohs and Queens of ancient Egypt. His voice, like his songs, resonates deeply. Also an exceedingly facile guitarist, Hardin alternately caresses and attacks the strings with a verve
and panache reminiscent of Richard Thompson's solo outings. Suffice to say, Hardin is the complete package, well worth your time and entertainment dollar.
By: Mark Warren
Best of the Bay 1997
Dave Hardin: Best Singer/Songwriter
By his reckoning, Dave is a distant cousin to the late folkster Tim
Hardin, and despite being on far off branches of the family tree, the
genes must've worked their way over. dave is a true troubadour, his
voice a worn piece of sandpaper, his lyrical imagery filled with
plainspoken Americana. he writes and sings tunes that are touching, at
times mesmerizing. Most of the time, he captures an exquisite
melancholy, but is also capable of the occasional buoyant number.
Hardin does not have a high profile as some of Tampa Bay's other
neo-folkies. His performing is largely relegated to northern Pinellas
County. It's High time he spread out.
by: Eric Snider
(**** out of *****)
Nine Years Alone
With a gravel road tenderness, Dave Hardin writes tunes in a southern folk groove. Sometimes, there's a bit of Steve Earle gruffness in his singing and, at times, a touch of '70s singer/songwriters in his playing, but his songs have an earthy elegance that warms the soul. "His voice is striking - craggy and weathered, just right for the lyrical scenarios of small towns, lonely highways and rural routes." Curtis Ross, Tampa Tribune
Raves for Dave
Let's start with a straight-up endorsement. Dave Hardin's new CD, Nine Years Alone, is among a handful of locally produced, independently released, albums that I have listened to for pure enjoyment, well past the point of professional obligation. And, as most of you probably know, I've been at this awhile.
The Palm Harbor-based singer/songwriter has, until recently, kept a relatively low profile, restricting his gigs to northern Pinellas County. In the last few years, he has become a WMNF on-air favorite. (I heard him sing live on 88.5 in ‘97 and was immediately floored.) The station has nabbed Harbin to perform at its most high-profile event, the Tropical Heatwave at the Cuban Club in Ybor City on May 20. WMNF has songs from the CD in frequent rotation.
Nine Years Alone was a two-year project that involved significant contributions from multi-instrumentalist Patrick Bettison and drummer Gary Ashton (who is currently Hardin's manager). Most of the tracks were cut on a digital recorder at the musicians' homes. The project was mastered by George Harris at Panda Productions.
"I work a full-time day job and play out three or four nights a week," says Hardin, 38. "If I was tired I didn't work on (the record). I didn't think there was any big rush. I don't think it sounds dated. When you write about things in your life, they don't go away in a day. They tend to stick around for awhile."
Hardin is a master at rendering snapshots of everyday life into revealing, emotionally-charged song-stories. His uncluttered lyrics cut to the heart of matters without resorting to cliches. Yet he possesses an earthy poetic flair, as evidenced in the song " Queen Size Wall, which captures a flagging marriage with the lines." ‘Cause scrapes are slow heal/ When you're sleepin' on your side/ And there's a queen-size wall between us/ A stronger man could climb."
Hardin delivers these songs in an affecting, twang-tinged rasp — like John Prine with more air than gravel. Although a few of the songs, most notably the tear-drenched title track, stick to acoustic guitar accompaniment, most are outfitted with lean arrangements that include ringing electric guitars, piano and other keyboards, electric bass, harmonica and some background vocals.
Because Hardin is anything but a hype kinda guy, he and his cohorts are not exactly orchestrating a Big Push for Nine Years Alone. Ashton, a transplanted Briton, has some veteran friends in the biz, who have agreed to present the music to influential ears. The disc is up on MP3.com and is being sold at retail in the Thrifty Acres chain (none of which are in Florida).
Hardin, who was raised in small-town Kentucky by his paternal grandparents until moving in with his father in suburban Cincinnatti as a teenager, first started performing, mostly for bar tabs, in Europe while he was in the Navy. His professional career did not begin until age 30, and that developed gradually. The admitted loner — he lives with his second wife and 12-year-old son — says he is by nature a patient man. " I'm pushing 40 and I'm no hurry," he says. " If something happens it happens. If nothing happens, that's cool too. But I'm not out there trying to grab for some brass ring."
Let alone a gold or platinum one
By Eric Snider
Dave Hardin plays every Thursday at the Purple Moon in Dunedin, as well as occasional weekends (727.738.1540).
Dave Hardin's distinctive voice grabs you immediately--it's rich and evocative in its balance of sweetness and grit.
"Between Us" is a bright, melodic slice of folk-pop featuring Hardin's eye for detail.
It's one of the privileges of writing for Revolutions that every so often a release like this pops through the letterbox. Dave Hardin can expect the attention of major labels once word of this self released CD gets out. Nine Years Alone is essentially a selection of observational acoustic songs (although a few curveballs are thrown) on which Hardin is given sterling backing by drummer Gary Ashton and multi-instrumentalist Patrick Bettison. It's centrepiece is The Tree, a moving tale in which an old tree in the garden of the family home is chopped down, prompting a flood of memories and a realisation that the rings on the stump mark out both personal and historical events. The theme of nostalgia is revisited on The Move and you sense from Our House that Hardin's journey has finally reached a place of contentment. Darker moments like Between Us and the title track's examination of the effects of Hardin's divorce on his young son are so personal that you almost feel like an eavesdropper when listening in. Nu Varres introduces us to Becky and Bobby as they leave their respective supermarket and petrol station jobs - they're a kind of smalltown American equivalent of Ray Davies' Terry and Julie, and the last track Ramses and Nefertiti is one of those curveballs I mentioned earlier - a bossa nova. I know it would take a leap of faith to make purchase of this album on my recommendation alone, so may I suggest a visit to www.vibemusic.com where there are some MP3 samples to download as well as links to websites which sell the album - you may be needing them! (JL)
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