We’re not anyone’s source for country music, in fact we find it difficult to find country music that we actually want to engage with. In a time where we occasionally find an artist in the genre that we adore, where multiple producers and songwriters are placed on a shiny and flashy country act to turn them into pop stars, there’s Hayes Carll. Carll has always made solid music that also happens to touch on the country genre. On his latest full length What It Is, he reminds us that he can still write songs that touch you and stay somewhere between country act and Americana star.
Between the lines of this record is where the true sorcery of what Carll does. With the upbeat opener “None’ya” he offers up pop touches to an Americana sound that will stick in your head. With the following track “Times Like These” he offers up a snappy country rock song that doesn’t sound manufactured while still holding your attention. Both songs hit and hit hard in completely different ways, proving quickly that as diverse as these two tracks are, they’re both part of the Hayes Carll universe. Carll dances between the two worlds with ease, offering fans and new listeners two sides of the same songwriter.
With tracks like “If I May Be So Bold,” “What It Is” and “Wild Pointy Finger” Carll keeps things rockin’ with plenty of snap. With tracks like “Things You Don’t Wanna Know,” “Jesus and Elvis” and “Fragile Men,” Carll gets more tender and offers up a more folksy side to his sound. The standout of the album for us was easily the song “Beautiful Thing” where Carll embodies plenty of honky tonk energy with his well placed lyricism. This is the world of an artist who’s making their own sounds present without trying to fit into any one box, but rather doing things as diverse as they are and keeping us tuned in for all of it.
You can stream What It Is on all streaming sites, you can purchase it digitally in all digital shops or directly from Dualtone Music Group in multiple formats and bundles. Hayes Carll will be on tour tonight in Denton, TX at Dan’s SilverLeaf until June 07 in Portsmouth, NH at 3s Artspace. A complete listing of his tour dates can be accessed here.
Image Credits: Photo by David McClister.