More Than Alright

Ever get to thinking about artists who release several great albums and then seemingly disappear off the radar for years? While going through my CD collection the other day, I came across Hayden’s Skyscraper National Park and Elk-Lake Serenade. The latter came out in 2004, and I hadn’t heard a peep out of the Canadian singer-songwriter since.

Hayden

I was concerned that he’d retreated into the isolated backwoods that are a prevalent theme in his music until I read this post on Aquarium Drunkard, which has information on his new record, In Field & Town and a couple of MP3s.

I agree with the AD assessment that In Field & Town isn’t any great stylistic leap for Hayden, consisting mostly of minimalistic, mid-tempo folk with occasional flourishes of brass, with the main draw being Hayden’s weary drawl. He’s drawn comparisons to Neil Young in the past and this is most explicit on album centrepiece ‘Did I Wake Up Beside You?’, which is more than reminiscent of Harvest’s ‘Words (Between the Lines of Age)’. The highlight is the breezy, beat-led title track, folk rock at its catchiest. While he hasn’t pushed beyond comfortable territory, it’s good to see he hasn’t disappeared.

Skyscraper National Park standout ‘Dynamite Walls’ is a mixtape favourite of mine, a song about driving from the city into the wilderness- “city lights turn to tree lines and fallen rock signs”. Building from a tight, looping guitar to a full band crescendo over the course of nearly seven minutes, it tells a tale familiar to all of us – the belief that getting away from the hustle and bustle will lead to an epiphany about our lives.

iMeem: Dynamite Walls [Stream]

Hayden’s In Field & Town is out now on Fat Possum Records in the US. It’s available as a UK import at Amazon.

MySpace: Stream ‘Where & When’ from In Field & Town.

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