Written By: Mike O’ Cull
Originality: (4 / 5) Vocals/Flow: (5 / 5) Lyrics: (5 / 5) Production: (5 / 5) Average: (4.8 / 5)
Hard Working Americans is a sort of hippie supergroup made up of members of Widespread Panic, Chris Robinson Brotherhood, and Great American Taxi. Supergroups have a track record of not always adding up to the sum of their parts but that’s not so much of a problem with HWA. The players are uniformly excellent, the set captured on the new live album We’re All in This Together is super tight, and the Alabama crowd in attendance clearly loves the show. The sound is Dead-heavy blues/rock and those who like that sort of thing will definitely like this.
The band is led by songwriter and singer Todd Snider and also includes Dave Schools and Duane Trucks of Widespread Panic, Neal Casal of Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Chad Staely of Great American Taxi as well as Jesse Aycock. The bunch recorded these tracks during their tour of 2016, capturing most of these 13 performances at Iron City in Birmingham, Alabama. From the opening cut, “Mission Accomplished,” the group is up and ready to go and envelops every bit of these songs. The loud and rocking stuff is just as it should be and HWA is equally adept at pulling it all back in as it does on the delicate 12/8 ballad “Ascending into Madness.” The cover of Chuck Berry’s “School Days” is hot, blue, and righteous and features some great slide guitar playing.
What We’re All in This Together really is is the sound of a rock band playing rock and roll. No new artistic ground is being broken, nothing revolutionary is happening, the house is just getting flat-out rocked. It’s as simple as that. This kind of rock has been around long enough to be considered folk music, at this point, and HWA is carrying on its traditions. Influences proudly abound but that’s part of the point, isn’t it? In an era where more and more culture is made from plastic, it’s important to maintain and preserve the old ways, the sounds of a killer band playing live. This is where we all started and sometimes it’s vital to remember that fact. This record should be a big help in that remembering process.