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Jared Hard

10,000 Hydrogen Bombs – 2016 ( Self-released)

Reviewed by Lee Zimmerman

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CDs by Jared Hard

Jared Hard describes his imposingly titled six-song EP "10,000 Hydrogen Bombs" as an exploration of moments in life, both big and small, "that serve to shape, destroy, rebuild, and change." Admittedly, that's a rather dramatic description, but it still serves him well. A serious and cerebral songwriter, Hard is adept at conveying compelling story lines, whether describing the effect of war on a soldier that's returned home ("Brother"), his own final farewell ("Single Mountain Fiddle") or an emphatic description of unbridled love (the title track). It's a powerful and poignant series of songs, all full of unflinching emotion and unusually astute observations.

Recorded and overseen by writer/producer Jeff Anderson, "10,000 Hydrogen Bombs" also possesses a kind of world-weary resignation that maintains its melancholy mood throughout. The only hint of celebration is found in the opening track "Right Where You're At," a rousing bit of revelry that quickly gives way to the more sobering sentiments inscribed in the tracks that follow. Yet that turnabout also has its upside. Hard's decision to give the effort over to songs that reflect more heartfelt happenstance shows he's not easily swayed by more commercial considerations. Indeed, he seems intent on giving listeners cause for reflection, and not simply reason to simply see him as radio-worthy.

Ultimately, "10,0000 Hydrogen Bombs" provides Hard with a perfect set-up, a kind of preamble and perspective that defines him as an artist that's worthy of being reckoned with straight from the start. Possessing both grit and gravitas, a more incisive effort would be hard to find.