Alt-country fans rejoice! Hereâ€™s an album so good, and so under-the-bubble, that Iâ€™m breaking my no-majors rule for it.
Hayes Carllâ€™s first, independently released albums (available on eMusic) were extraordinary works that somehow missed the Ryan Adams/Sun Volt crowd, but got enough attention that Mr. Carll has been bought up by Lost Highway (yes, the label that believes bloggers belong in jail). Itâ€™s not a surprise, because his last release, â€œLittle Rock,â€ hit #1 on a Billboardâ€™s Americana Chart. And the Texas troubadorâ€™s first release with a big budget hasnâ€™t weakened his skills. But has enabled him to play with some of his heroes. Studio work on â€œTrouble in Mindâ€ included sessions with Dan Baird, Will Kimbrough, and Al Perkins of The Flying Burrito Brothers.
Musically, Carllâ€™s a lot closer to Bob Dylan than any recognizable country star. â€œA Lover Like Youâ€ is vintage â€œHighway 61â€ era Dylan, right down to the nasal drawl. In fact, do you remember Bob Dylan’s country album? If it had been a great record (instead a good half-record), it might have sounded something like “Trouble in Mind.” But he can do Waylon, too, like on â€œDrunken Poetâ€™s Dream,â€ with its refrain: â€œIâ€™m gonna holler/Iâ€™m gonna scream/Iâ€™m gonna get me some mescaline.â€ He also can seamless interweave obscure songs with deep literary references to Faulkner between love songs like â€œWilling to Love Againâ€ and the more traditional Country tune, â€œShe Left Me For Jesusâ€ (â€œSheâ€™s left me for Jesus, and that just ainâ€™t fair/She says that heâ€™s perfect, how can I compare?â€)
It takes a lot for me to pay homage to a guy who is on a label like Lost Highway, who should never be
forgiven or forgotten for having two bloggers thrown in jail(!) for leaking advance Ryan Adams tracks. (Iâ€™m not going to get into a detailed discussion of this, but for new readers Iâ€™ll explain: It happened. I donâ€™t condone leaks, and I donâ€™t post them, but I also think jailtime was far too extreme a remedy.) So for me to pen this post, you know itâ€™s got to be good stuff.
Live Hayes from the new album:
Old live Hayes:
Live Hayes covers!