Music

Hayes Carll: Lovers and Leavers

Photo: Jacob Blickenstaff

Hayes Carll returns a bit wiser and in a pensive mood on Lovers and Leavers.


Hayes Carll

Lovers and Leavers

Label: Thirty Tigers
US Release Date: 2016-04-08
UK Release Date: 2016-04-08
Amazon
iTunes

Never one to rush an album, singer/songwriter Hayes Carll was good for a new release every three years following his 2002 debut, Flowers & Liquor. Carll could have been excused for rushing the follow up to KMAG YOYO & Other American Stories -- his 2011 album that served as a critical benchmark and only release to chart -- yet he chose to extend rather than shorten the waiting period by two years. Sidelined by events such as a divorce, a new love and simply taking time off to reassess life itself, the jocular musical descendant of Texans Townes Van Zandt, Jerry Jeff Walker and Guy Clark, Carll returns a bit wiser and in a pensive mood on Lovers and Leavers.

Going from clown prince of the roadhouse responsible for such songs as "Naked Checkers", "Little Rock", "She Left Me for Jesus" and "Stomp and Holler" to front porch bard requires wisdom and guts. The man who once covered Tom Waits' "I Don't Wanna Grow Up" has done just that. Already deemed a poet by Rodney Crowell, the first hint of Carll's newfound profundity is "Drive", the nimble acoustic opener that invokes Robert Frost and his "promises to keep". While the circumstances that marked the last half-decade could have provided fertile song fodder, Carll chose instead to leave such country tropes unturned. With a deft artistic touch, the affecting "The Love That We Need" and its domestic tranquility flips tradition, detailing matrimonial rituals that over time have become rote actions devoid of sincerity: "We go out walking / But we don't talk much / We lie down together / But our hearts never touch." A counterpoint to those jaded by age, "The Magic Kid" who has "Never stopped the show / For fear or doubt / Like the rest of us did" serves as a moment of clarity, with Carll's fearless son a reminder of innocence and freedom lost along the way.

Perhaps addressing criticism of his co-opting "Subterranean Homesick Blues" for the title track of KMAG YOYO, Carll bluntly states in press notes of Lovers and Leavers that "it's not my Blood on the Tracks", Dylan's famed breakup record. While such an inward turn five albums into a career could easily prove mawkish, those involved with co-writing the ten songs on Lovers and Leavers -- including Jim Lauderdale ("Drive"), Will Hoge ("Good While It Lasted"), Scott Nolan ("You Leave Alone"), Ruston Kelly ("Love Is So Easy") and J.D. Souther ("Jealous Moon") -- keep Carll between the lines. Having lost a wife, Carll has gained a new love and musical partner in Allison Moorer, who, with Jack Ingram, has a writing credit on "The Love That We Need". As if singing to Moorer on the forward-looking "Love Don't Let Me Down", Carll pleads, "I'm a good man, a loving man / Who just needs someone to hold / I can see it in your face / Your love can fill up this empty space / And the years up ahead don't have to feel so damn alone."

Stripped of any prior barroom antics, Joe Henry's no-frills production keeps the focus on Carll's urbane lyrics. An acoustic album, Henry sprinkles in percussion, piano and pedal steel sparingly, save for the Waitsian sendup "Sake of the Song" -- one of three songs written with Darrell Scott -- a brooding homage to craftsmanship that doubles as a pointed critique of style over substance. Personal and plain, Lovers and Leavers is music as catharsis well worth the wait, with Carll urging all to "Tell your truth however you choose / And do it all for the sake of the song." Spoken like a true poet.

7
Music


Books


Film


Television


Recent
Reading Pandemics

Colonial Pandemics and Indigenous Futurism in Louise Erdrich and Gerald Vizenor

From a non-Native perspective, COVID-19 may be experienced as an unexpected and unprecedented catastrophe. Yet from a Native perspective, this current catastrophe links to a longer history that is synonymous with European colonization.

Film

The 10 Best Films of Sir Alan Parker

Here are 10 reasons to mourn the passing of one of England's most interesting directors, Sir Alan Parker.

Music

July Talk Transform on 'Pray for It'

On Pray for It, Canadian alt-poppers July Talk show they understand the complex dualities that make up our lives.

Music

With 'Articulation' Rival Consoles Goes Back to the Drawing Board

London producer Rival Consoles uses unorthodox approaches on his latest record, Articulation, resulting in a stunning, beautiful collection.

Film

Paranoia Goes Viral in 'She Dies Tomorrow'

Amy Seimetz's thriller, She Dies Tomorrow, is visually dazzling and pulsating with menace -- until the color fades.

Music

MetalMatters: July 2020 - Back on Track

In a busy and exciting month for metal, Boris arrive in rejuvenated fashion, Imperial Triumphant continue to impress with their forward-thinking black metal, and death metal masters Defeated Sanity and Lantern return with a vengeance.

Books

Isabel Wilkerson's 'Caste' Reveals the Other Kind of American Exceptionalism

By comparing the American race-based class system to that of India and Nazi Germany, Isabel Wilkerson makes us see a familiar evil in a different light with her latest work, Caste.

Film

Anna Kerrigan Prioritizes Substance Over Style in 'Cowboys'

Anna Kerrigan talks with PopMatters about her latest film, Cowboys, which deviates from the common "issues style" approach to LGBTQ characters.

Music

John Fusco and the X-Road Riders Get Funky with "It Takes a Man" (premiere + interview)

Screenwriter and musician John Fusco pens a soulful anti-street fighting man song, "It Takes a Man". "As a trained fighter, one of the greatest lessons I have ever learned is to walk away from a fight without letting ego get the best of you."

Books

'Run-Out Groove' Shows the Dark Side of Capitol Records

Music promoter Dave Morrell's memoir, Run Out Groove, recalls the underbelly of the mainstream music industry.

Film

It's a Helluva of a World in Alain Corneau's 'Série Noire'

Alain Corneau's Série Noire is like a documentary of squalid desperation, albeit a slightly heightened and sardonic one.

Music

The 15 Best Americana Albums of 2015

From the old guard reaffirming its status to upstarts asserting their prowess, personal tales voiced by true artists connected on an emotional level in the best Americana music of 2015.

Music

Dizzy's Katie Munshaw Keeps Home Fires Burning with 'The Sun and Her Scorch'

In a world turned upside down, it might be the perfect time to take a new album spin with Canadian dream-pop band Dizzy and lead singer-songwriter Katie Munshaw, who supplies enough emotional electricity to jump-start a broken heart.

Music

Nkem Njoku and Ozzobia Brothers Bring Summery Highlife to 'Ozobia Special'

Summery synths bring highlife of the 1980s on a reissue of Nkem Njoku and Ozzobia Brothers' innovative Ozobia Special.

Music

'The Upward Spiral' Is Nicolas Bougaïeff's Layered and Unique Approach to Techno

On his debut album for Mute, Berlin-based producer Nicolas Bougaïeff applies meticulous care and a deft, trained ear to each track, and the results are marvelous.

Music

How BTS Always Leave You Wanting More

K-pop boy band BTS are masterful at creating a separation between their public personas and their private lives. This mythology leaves a void that fans willingly fill.

Music

The Psychedelic Furs' 'Made of Rain' Is Their First Album in Nearly 30 Years

The first album in three decades from the Psychedelic Furs beats expectations just one track in with "The Boy That Invented Rock and Roll".

Music

Fontaines D.C. Abandon the Familiar on 'A Hero's Death'

Fontaines D.C.'s A Hero's Death is the follow-up to the acclaimed Dogrel, and it features some of their best work -- alongside some of their most generic.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.