Lacy J. Dalton “Hard Times” Classic Album Review
Greetings from Asheville, where good music is always found on the turntable, in the CD player, or in the MP3 player. This Classic Album Review is a return to the end of 1980; for what was the latest release from Lacy J. Dalton. Coming off her first successful album and hits, she was looking to build on her success with her next release, Hard Times. Was she able to? While the album didn’t chart as high as the previous, self-titled debut, eleven for that album, compared to eighteen for this album, it did spawn her first three top ten hits. So, overall, I’d have to say, yes, it did.
The album kicks off with the title cut, the first of the three top ten singles from the album, peaking at seven in the Fall of 1980. Lyrically, it fit perfect for the times, where the country was in recession, and the song talks of hard times really being loveless relationships. One of her best works, in my opinion.
Then again, I’d say the same thing about “Hillbilly Girl With The Blues”, as well. Becoming her second top ten single in early 1981, it’s more along the traditional lines, especially for the early 1980’s. Kind of loud and raucous, yet still a bit restrained; you feel like it’s a song that wants to be fully let out. Still, a fine track.
“China Doll” is a decent track. A little more pop-flavored, yet with Billy Sherrill at the helm, it doesn’t go overboard into that realm. Good beat and a lyrically strong piece, mixed with some more fine vocals.
Things slow down for “Old Soldier”, which is a good ballad. I wouldn’t call it powerful, but effective, yes.
Side one ends with the smoking hot “Ain’t Nobody Who Could Do It Like My Daddy Could”, a mix of Country, Cajun, and Rock. This one will get you up and jumping.
Another ballad opens side two, “You Can’t Fool Love”. When it comes to the slower ballads, Lacy J. Dalton’s vocals work better, when her blues-stylings are allowed to come through, as they are, here.
The sounds have been mixed, nicely, throughout this album, and this track falls into the more traditional leanings. “Wide Eyed And Willing” is an okay track, but one that I’m mostly neutral about.
Perhaps the most interesting song on the album is “The Girls From Santa Cruz”. It’s not everyday that you get a song about cowgirls stealing a horse, then being pursued by a Texas Ranger. However, the ending may surprise you; no arrests, no deaths, no shooting. The Texas Ranger winds up running off with one of the girls.
“Whisper” was the album’s third single, sneaking into the top ten during the Summer of 1981. Standard country-pop ballad, starts slow then picks up the pace, before slowing down again. I’ve always liked the performance of Lacy J. Dalton on this track. Good piece of music.
The album wraps with the track “Me ‘N’ You”, another country-blues-rocker. While the song, itself, isn’t as strong as some of the other tracks, the performance by Lacy J. Dalton is stellar.
Out of print, used copies are plentiful, in the price range of $1 to $15, for the most part. This album was originally released on vinyl, 8-track, and cassette.
My Standout Track goes to “Hillbilly Girl With The Blues”, while I give the Hidden Gem to “The Girls From Santa Cruz”. Weakest Track goes to “Wide Eyed And Willing”, a track that just didn’t do it for me.
Overall, this is a pretty decent work. The songs, outside of the singles, are in the average to above-average range, while the performances by Lacy J Dalton are, at worst, very good, and at best, outstanding. I rate it a 3 out of 5.