Hayes Carll : Trouble in Mind

hayes_carll.jpgIf Hayes Carll’s Trouble in Mind represents the depth and colorful elegance associated with new country music, then hand me my six-shooter and let’s go ramble across the prairie. Nashville producer Brad Jones precisely captures the quilt of simplicity, living and loving that Carll pours out from his Texas heart.

The opening “Drunken Poet’s Dream” was co-written with friend Ray Wylie Hubbard.  Lyrics like, “Wine bottles scattered like last night’s clothes, Cigarette papers and dominoes, She laughs for a minute about the shape I’m in, Says, You be the sinner and I’ll be the sin” bait you like a shinny nickel deep down at the bottom of a raccoon trap.  If you don’t fall right to the bottom, you will slowly, one song at time, work your way down past the point of no return.

Not only do the lyrics fit like a comfy pair of beat-up overalls, instrumentation like My Morning Jacket guitarist Carl Broemel’s pedal steel and Al Perkins violin marinate the music with sweet honeysuckle. “It’s a Shame” follows with more landscape filled with vast skies of blue and prairies of lush green grass, created by the extra vocals of Carey Kotsionis. Carey and Hayes harmonize beautifully, and ride along effortlessly on the caravan of guitars. 

“Girl Downtown” finds more visitors eager to help out. This time around Will Kimbrough joins Carll and crew on baritone guitar. The western, spaghetti guitar line paired with Al Perkins banjo construct the back porch of your dreams and offer up the soundtrack to boot. The whole album is just a comfortable affair, soothing to the ear and full of humorous adventure and vivid imagery.

“Bad Liver and a Broken Heart” finds this engagement opening things up and letting a little Texas rock and roll breach for the first time. “Arkansas, my head hurts, I’d like to stick around and maybe make things worse” starts the roadhouse rocker, and before it is said and done things have made out worse with “Come in clean, leave torn apart, A bad liver and a broken heart.”  

Supremely talented multi instrumentalist Fats Kaplin makes appearances on “Beaumont,” Faulkner Street,” “Wild as a Turkey,” and on the Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan penned “I Don’t Wanna Grow Up,” offering violin, mandolin, pedal, lap steel and dobro. 

At no point does the serious talent backing this outing overpower the song.  Hayes has mastered the art of storytelling, and the production of top shelf musicians compliments the tales perfectly.  “Faulkner Street” ushers in more tales of smoking marijuana, drinking whiskey and raising trouble. Broemel and Kimbrough’s guitars sore out in front of the pack, and Thad Cockrell makes an appearance on backing vocals.

Joining the ranks of songwriters like Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and Van Morrison on the Lost Highway roster is an enormous feet, one that could only be earned with an effort as pure and pleasing as Trouble in Mind.

Trouble in Mind is out April 15 on Lost Highway.