Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Josh Niles at Big Light, Nashville, Tennessee
The hard knocks hit redundantly for the characters in T. Hardy Morris & The Outfit songs. They pound and they pound and just when you think they've gone, they reappear and knock some more. These hard knocks turn these people knackered, as they attempt to do whatever they can to numb the pain. They try to ease themselves out of the worst of the ordeals, but there are enough disasters to choose from. So many, in fact, that some of them get watered down enough that they're no longer in the classification of disastrous anymore.
It's not that a coldness to them sets in, but these folks become less affected, as Morris sings in "Disaster Proof." They become better at meandering around or controlling the damages. They find themselves needing fewer bandages, but more whiskey. It seems to do what they need it to do in these situations, even when they feel like they've toughened up enough to cope with it all.
Morris, the lead singer for Dead Confederate and a member of the indie rock super group Diamond Rugs, has written a batch of sad Southern ballads here. They're filled with silent, balled up fists and dulled emotion, even when all of the stories remain vibrant, fresh wounds that are bound to stay fresh for a while, even when time works on them.
They're about landing face-first on the canvas and having someone standing above you, counting toward ten and feeling like it's all a dream, but knowing that you must and you will rise to your feet before he gets to that number that will call the fight off. You're going to stand up and try to keep fighting, even if it's woozily. You're going to take some more shots. Each one hurts less and less. Some of them get laughed off. Some of them don't. As Morris sings, "And I'll clean up/You know I never mind the sight of blood."