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Hayes Carll

LITTLE ROCK • Hayes Carll

The next great songwriter from Texas. He is ragged but right, and had a few last night. At the recent Americana Awards show at the Ryman, Hayes Carll was the biggest surprise of the evening. He shone.

The fact that, on his second record, Ray Wylie Hubbard, John Evans, and Guy Clark have all co-written songs with him speaks volumes. Not just about how good he is, but about the kind of songwriter he is. His history degree notwithstanding, he's not clever this or frat boy that, and looks a little too much like the slacker devil to be the boy next door. As producer R.S. Field put it so poetically, Hayes embodies "...Willie, Ray Wylie, Jerry Jeff and all that...that kind of non-hipster, Texas, folk songs, pot, old Gibson guitar aesthetic..." I hear that, and that's what I want to hear.

Although he debuted with honors on Compadre Records with Liquor and Flowers, Carll formed a team around him and went his own way for sophomore year. Beat the jinx and then some, he's sold about ten thousand units by now, and toured the country. He can use a band in TX where he's best known, but is a great solo act otherwise.

Another interesting move is that he left his turf to cut his second record in Nashville, with outsider R.S. Field at the helm, one of our favorites. Put Kenny Vaughan on guitar and Los Straitjackets' Jimmy Lester on drums, with Jared Reynolds (Ben Folds) on bass, and you got a slammin record.

The sophomore jinx is usually about not having the songs, since an artist's first record has the best songs of their life to date, and the second one was usually written while they were touring behind (or recovering from) the debut. But Little Rock has the tunes covered, this guy's just getting started. Aside from his ten great songs, there's a standout by John Evans and Adam Carroll, "Take Me Away."

Say what you like about it, but I'm always happy to hear a Texan who's great without being arrogant. Buy this great record. We close with the chorus of the opening song:

And sometimes I can't believe I did all that for a song Hey I'm glad I came, just wish I hadn't stayed so long

• Frank Goodman

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