By Carolina de Busto
By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Steve Brennan
By Joseph Hess
By Allsion Babka
By Kelsey McClure
By RFT Music
By Christian Schaeffer
Jon Hardy's voice is both strong and soft, which means he's able to belt out full-bodied declarations with vocals that are like the texture of warm, worn flannel. In places on Working in Love, Hardy's tenor recalls My Morning Jacket's Jim James minus all that reverb, and his slight hint of twang makes it easy to think of his band as an Americana outfit. It's closer to the truth to call them a rock & soul band in the vein of Van Morrison circa Tupelo Honey. A three-piece horn section enlivens many of Love's eleven tracks, providing a surprising pivot-point in the opener "Love Gone Wrong" and giving an earthy resonance to "I Will." On "Please, Baby Please," the horns propel the song's light swing to regal heights, as Hardy reminds his audience that "love's gonna shut your mouth."
Working in Love is an apt title for this collection of songs. Relationships of all stripes serve as the basis for these tracks, and Hardy's lyrics occupy a space where love itself is elusive and ever-changing, something that is hard-won. "Love Don't Work Like That" finds Hardy at his most urgent (which is still pretty genteel) as he details the ins and outs of love with his lady. The band saves the best for last; "Cassius Clay" floats like a butterfly but aches like a dream as Glenn LaBarre's lingering guitar lines and a distant bed of organ chords lend an ethereal grace to Hardy's words of devotion and doubt.
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