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Cold Hard Truth by George Jones

In view of his nearly fatal accident, George Jones’ Cold Hard Truth reads like the diary of someone who has fought death and won.

Because of the accident, Cold Hard Truth was released with some of George’s trial vocals. Yet, what it lacks in studio polish it makes up for in naked passion. The single “Choices” is a melancholy masterpiece and the heartbreaking “Our Bed of Roses,” where he pines over his late wife’s garden, would be hokey with a less-talented singer. In George’s hands it’s a heart-rending tragedy that ranks with his classics like “She Thinks I Still Care.”

Of course, George can still raise the roof. The raucous Cajun-flavored “Ain’t Love a Lot Like That,” follows in the tradition of barnburners “White Lightning” and “The Race Is On.”

“You Never Know Just How Good You’ve Got It” is a rowdy woe-is-me tale. But rather than wallow in misery, the Possum gleefully spits out the last choruses, leaving no doubt that the singer has earned every laugh the hard way.

The finale, “When the Last Curtain Falls,” finds George crooning hard-won truths like “I’m finally learning to live and forgive and let go.” It’s the humble admission of a man who almost let it all slip away.

At age 67, George is singing better than ever, and proves here that there’s no substitute for experience. Cold Hard Truth is easily his most emotional and moving music in ages.

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