“It’s almost midnight and Rick Hart is looking to the radio to find company. The coffee is wearing off and he’s got to see his girl in Carrollton, USA. He won’t be home for eight hours but maybe you just want to keep him company and ride along through the Texas night.
Hart may be from Australia but he fits right into the American landscape he uses as a backdrop for his new EP Levon Helm. When you listen to “Carrollton,” it’s like hanging out with an old friend. Hart evokes the classic homespun feel and vocal intonations of the great late Texan storyteller Townes Van Zandt. When you find yourself tapping along to the rollicking “Favourite Skin” or the classic honky tonk piano line in “Carrollton,” you might feel the familiarity of Bob Dylan’s “It Takes a Lot To Laugh, It Takes a Train To Cry” seeping in.
Hart is a refreshing counterpart to the plethora of male singers who have gone awry of country tradition. Hart’s new EP is a perfect antidote to whatever bro-hangover still looms over us and has the same refreshing appeal that Sam Outlaw’s debut album had last year.
In the title track “Levon Helm,” Hart tells the story of a woman whose lover grapples with alcohol addiction and succumbs to death from drinking.
The song is earnest and heartbreakingly told. The subtle nuances of the fiddle underscore the ruefulness of the track.
It’s a song that is beautifully played and a memory respectfully honored and memorialized over repeated playings. I look forward to seeing Hart and know you will too.”
Steve Wosahla - For The Country Record (review of Levon Helm)
“This is impressive songwriting! The melodic aspects perfectly capture the emotional tone of the songs. The classic alt country/R&B musical aspects are brilliant. It’s a genuine pleasure to review this exceptionally high level of songwriting.“
Great American Song Contest
"Hart's words depict strong imagery, 'Drink a glass half full to a heart half empty, Are we too far gone or just about to fade' he opens with on 'Can't See The Light'.
Rick's tight, rock-oriented country music cuts through fine, culminating in the mid-tempo rocker 'Mess I'm In', complete with the gorgeous female backing vocals. "
Real Roots Cafe – Review of Spiral EP
“A few seconds of Rick Hart’s warm, honey-sweet voice will get you hooked. He also knows how to play to his strengths. A singer-songwriter in the tradition of the folk greats of the ‘60s and ‘70s, Hart’s songs sound like you’ve heard them somewhere before. Hart’s honesty and commitment to his music is abundantly clear, and it’s what keeps his sound contemporary and immediate. I found myself most drawn to “Hummingbird”, which is relatively stripped down compared to the other songs. That being said, Hart also does great things with the tried-and-true”.
Rachel Cholst (Adobe and Teardrops)
“On his debut EP, Spiral, Australian country artist Rick Hart offers up five slices of heartbreak, failure, and indeed redemption. The song titles tell much of the story: "Spiral," "Can't See The Light," and "Mess I'm In." These opening three songs collectively serve as a mission statement for Rick Hart: no matter how hard life gets, it's still worth fighting for. By the time standout track "Hummingbird" whispers out of the speakers, Hart truly hits his artistic stride, channelling the essence of Big Star, the very same band featured on his t-shirt on the EP's cover art. Indeed, for all the glossy countrified sheen that envelopes so much of Hart's music, "Hummingbird" captures his true strength as a solo acoustic folk artist.
The fact that much of Hart's work adheres so closely to American country music genre conventions is intriguing to say the least, particularly given the fact that Australia is a long way from Nashville, Tennessee. But then again, Keith Urban didn't do too badly for himself, and likewise had to slog it out through years of relative obscurity in his homeland before connecting with American country audiences. Perhaps the biggest compliment that can be paid to Hart's music is that there isn't the slightest trace of Australian influence anywhere to be found on Spiral, suggesting that this EP could have just as easily been made by a young man from Tupelo, Mississippi as a gentleman from Melbourne.”
Leks Maltby (Aside/Bside)
“City Lights” has a very country sound, with a hint of a rockier/blues edge to it, but is still very much honky tonk country. The single finds the narrator singing about his girl leaving him for the city life. The song is very easy on the ears. It’s a nice change of pace compared to what mainstream country is offering these days. The bluesy melody will have you tapping your foot along to the rhythm, and the catchy lyrics will be stuck in your head long after the song is over. Go ahead and check it out!
For The Country Record review of “City Lights”