Alt-country fans rejoice! Here’s an album so good, and so under-the-bubble, that I’m breaking my no-majors rule for it.
Hayes Carll’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). It’s not a surprise, because his last release, “Little Rock,” hit #1 on a Billboard’s Americana Chart. And the Texas troubador’s first release with a big budget hasn’t weakened his skills. But has enabled him to play with some of his heroes. Studio work on “Trouble in Mind” included sessions with Dan Baird, Will Kimbrough, and Al Perkins of The Flying Burrito Brothers.
Musically, Carll’s a lot closer to Bob Dylan than any recognizable country star. “A Lover Like You” is vintage “Highway 61” 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 “Drunken Poet’s Dream,” with its refrain: “I’m gonna holler/I’m gonna scream/I’m gonna get me some mescaline.” He also can seamless interweave obscure songs with deep literary references to Faulkner between love songs like “Willing to Love Again” and the more traditional Country tune, “She Left Me For Jesus” (“She’s left me for Jesus, and that just ain’t fair/She says that he’s perfect, how can I compare?”)
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. (I’m not going to get into a detailed discussion of this, but for new readers I’ll explain: It happened. I don’t condone leaks, and I don’t post them, but I also think jailtime was far too extreme a remedy.) So for me to pen this post, you know it’s got to be good stuff.
Live Hayes from the new album:
Drunken Poet’s Dream
Old live Hayes:
Morrissey Falls in Love at First Sight
Live Hayes covers!
I don’t Wanna Grow Up (Tom Waits)
I Been Everywhere (Johnny Cash)
When I Paint My Masterpiece (Bob Dylan)