Equal parts fragile and robust, plus tight song construction and savvy lyricism. In short, a rollicking good listen.
It's not the songwriting that will make or break Sean Hayes's organically rendered Run Wolves Run. These songs, especially the quieter numbers ("Garden", "Open Up a Window"), are lush with details, poetic even. The faster ones ("So Down", "Gunnin'") are fit for head nodding and hand clapping, due in part to their heavy reliance on repetition, particularly toward the backend. The musicianship won't sink this ship either. Mr. Hayes and company manage to rumble, shake, and thunder through 11 musically tight and cohesive compositions, with the percussion generally leading the way for Hayes's guitar work and David Hoff's thumping bass.
No, it's the voice of lead singer and guitarist Sean Hayes himself that elevates this material beyond its tight construction and savvy lyricism. Scratchy and angular, the vocals strike the right balance between confidence and vulnerability, experience and exuberance. It has all of the weathering of a dusty trail, but the excitement is in not knowing where the trail is headed. Each crackle promises a complete break. Every smooth note threatens to be overturned. Thrilling stuff, vocally, and sort of like Maroon 5's Adam Levine mixed with Tracy Chapman, if you can imagine such a thing. It's fragile yet robust.
Rambunctious jam "One Day the River" is a centerpiece that almost makes the two truly solid tracks after it ("Soul Shaker", "Stella Seed") sound a bit bland by comparison. Maybe Run Wolves Run isn't as wild as its title might suggest, but it is nonetheless a rollicking good listen.