Editors' pick

Hayes Carll


Editorial Review

Steve Knopper wrote about Hayes Carll in April 2008 for The Washington Post:

Had 32-year-old Hayes Carll been old enough to emerge in the 1980s, his Houston drawl and lyrics about women of all dispositions would have fit nicely between the cracks Steve Earle, Lyle Lovett and Townes Van Zandt left behind. His third album's first line, from "Drunken Poet's Dream," is "I got a woman who's wild as Rome / she likes to be naked and gazed upon." It tells pretty much everything you need to know about "Trouble in Mind" -- Carll's characters are rebellious and sexy, and he illustrates them with the sound of deep, loping guitars, prissy mandolins and the occasional Rolling Stones riff.

The album sounds great in that swampy, Texas-country kind of way: The electric guitars seem primed to wrestle an alligator on slower songs like "I Got a Gig"; they crank up to house-party levels on "Bad Liver and a Broken Heart" and "Faulkner Street." But the music is familiar, functioning mainly to complement Carll's husky voice and rich rhymes.

Carll's gift is for lyrical detail -- which producer Brad Jones is savvy enough to spotlight by conspicuously reducing the cacophony for the best lines. The girl in "Girl Downtown" has freckles, pencils in her pocket and ketchup on her clothes. The girl in "Wild as a Turkey" is "an angel in a place you don't belong." The girl in "She Left Me for Jesus" loves her savior literally: "She says that he's perfect / How could I compare?" Of course, by the end, Carll is threatening to beat up the Lord. It's a great touch in an album full of them.