Having grown up with music, it took a period of crisis in mid-life for adoptive Texan Penny Ney to pick up her guitar again and give the whole thing another bash. There are just five songs on this ep, all of them self-penned originals, and the style is quintessentially Texan. The pedal steel playing from Kim Deschamps, and Carlos Alvarez’s accordion in particular, point up that wonderful Texan heritage of Mexican border music and European-influenced swing. Stir in Penny’s old-school country writing and you get a pleasingly rich brew of influences, with four slow to mid-tempo country numbers topped off with a cheerfully rousing honky-tonk rocker, Saturday Night – certainly the highlight of this set.
Penny’s got an alto voice that can be pretty rich and strong, though it does sound like she hasn’t quite rediscovered her full voice. She sounds great on Saturday Night but there are a few other moments when you feel she needs a bit more faith in herself to really deliver the goods. Producer/arranger/sideman Ron Flynt has done a great job with these songs, bringing in some very fine players whilst allowing Penny’s own character to come through, and Kim Deschamps’ pedal steel is a total joy, reminiscent of Lloyd Maines who is a particular musical hero of mine. The Hardest Truth is a fine starting point as Penny Ney relaunches her musical career, full of promise of more to come.
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