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Music : Christian Kiefer - Welcome To Hard Times (1999)

Artist: Christian Kiefer
Album: Welcome To Hard Times
Released: 1999
Label: Extreme
Genre: Alt-Country & Americana, Contemporary Folk
Quality: FLAC
Bitrate: Lossless
Total Time: 59:12
Total Size: 316 MB


1. Frontier 1 (0:47)
2. Giants (3:52)
3. Crow Jane (4:09)
4. Hard Times (4:49)
5. Frontier 2 (3:53)
6. Archetype (3:01)
7. Firing The Town (7:24)
i. In This Blood
ii. Angels
iii. Fire
8. Frontier 3 (2:59)
9. How To Kill An Indian (5:32)
10. Roll The Bones (5:04)
11. The Highwayman's Song (5:01)
12. True Song For The Churchkeeper (7:06)
13. Erendira (4:04)
14. Frontier 4 (1:31)

(Traditional, arranged by Kiefer) - 1,14
(Traditional, arranged and with lyrics by Kiefer) - 7.i,9,12
(Kiefer/Madden) - 7.ii

Produced by Christian Kiefer and Michael Madden
Engineered by Michael Madden
Recorded at Chin Music Studios, Auburn, California, USA
Mastered by Francois Tetaz at Moose Mastering

Art direction & design by Doriana Corda
Images used by permission of National Archives and Records Administration, USA

Liner notes: Christian Kiefer

All tracks and noises by Christian Kiefer except where noted
Jeroan Van Aichen: vocal (2)
Scott Leftridge: bass (4)
Michael Madden: banjo and shape-note vocals (7), piano (9), additional percussion (10)
Jason Adair: string bass, additional kazoos, additional handclaps and additional vocals (12)
Andrea Madden: additional handclaps (12)

No matter what you were expecting, Welcome to Hard Times defies expectations -- it betters them. This full-length debut by the California singer/songwriter is nothing short of stunning and takes the post-folk genre to a whole new level. Christian Kiefer's songs are literate, even erudite in their origins, as they are the results of a careful study of the history of western America. The themes of the West (musical and cultural) serve as guideposts from which Kiefer strays on his own path, debunking a few cliches along the way. Banjo and acoustic guitar provide the main instrumentation. Country and folk are plucked at their roots and transplanted into the 21st century. Instrumental soundscapes glue the pieces together to form a self-contained journey, each song becoming one short story in a collection. "Giants" deals with the macho first-person narration gracefully, but the best moments arise when Kiefer's vocals take center stage. In "Firing the Town," "Roll the Bones," and mostly "How to Kill an Indian" and "Erendira," Kiefer sings in a understated voice, but it does not result in the amateurish delivery so common in alternative rock and folk. The fragility and emotion are genuine, the intonation precise yet natural, giving his singing the power to rip through your chest like Phil Ochs or Tori Amos in her early days -- yes, that would be heresy putting these two names side by side, but wait until you hear him sing "How to Kill an Indian" backed only by Michael Madden's piano. Damn, it's beautiful. The best part is that Welcome to Hard Times becomes more infectious with every listen. Albums like this don't come often -- and it's only his debut! - Francois Couture, AMG

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