The Hard Game of Love – Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver
Sugar Hill Records 3949
On his first secular recording in six years, Doyle Lawson plays it safe.
Doyle and Quicksilver hot-pick their way through songs of lovin', losin',
leavin' and longin' with a train song and a blues number mixed in for good
measure. The Hard Game of Love is traditional in every sense as the
never strays far from familiar themes, licks, or harmonies. "Standing Room
Only" walks down-heartedly through a Broken Hearts Convention while "We
Missed You" sings the loner's lament. "Poor Boy's Working Blues" says it
all with the title, as does "Blue Train (of the heartbreak line)". The
birdish "Oak Ridge Rendezvous" offers the only instrumental breakdown and
affirms that Doyle and the band can pick along with the best of them. Their
ubiquitous harmonies mesh perfectly throughout the disc.
In short, all of the pieces are in place, but the sum doesn't equal the
parts. While there is much to be said for adherence to tradition, you run
the risk of sounding staid and stuffy. Rather than searching for their own
clear voice, traditionalists try to fit their talents to a prescribed norm.
"The Hard Game of Love" is a solid and very conventional bluegrass record
from a band that clearly knows the rules and recipes, but their choice to
color within the lines renders the album predictable and devoid of