Hayes Carll
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Hayes Carll


Band Country Singer/Songwriter


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Hayes Carll @ House of Blues

San Diego, California, USA

San Diego, California, USA

Hayes Carll @ The Fillmore

San Francisco, California, USA

San Francisco, California, USA

Hayes Carll @ Wonder Ballroom

Portland, Oregon, USA

Portland, Oregon, USA

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This band has not uploaded any videos



SXSW can get you down — you watch all the trendoids chasing the next flavor of the month, all the hipsters wearing the same smarmy, ironic T-shirts, the same asymmetrical hairstyles, the same vintage sneaks, the same angular postpunk electrowave fashion rock. Carll is the antidote to all that stuff. Here’s a guy who takes regular old rockin’ Texas folk country and just adds new songs to the canon. And make no mistake, stuff like “Highway 87,” “Wish I Hadn’t Stayed So Long” and “Down the Road Tonight” are in the process of canonization, right there alongside the songs of Van Zandt, Clark, Earle, Crowell, Shaver, Keen, Hubbard, et al. Houston, we have a poet.

By John Nova Lomax

- Houston Press

Not Americana so much as folk rock as it existed around the time of Another Side of Bob Dylan and Tom Rush's Take a Little Walk with Me. "Chickens," the final track, clinches the deal with an Al Kooper-like guitar solo and a laconic vocal that suggests what "Black Crow Blues" would have sounded like with a band. - Rock and Rap Confidential

This is the first mighty country record of the year, a bruised, bedraggled affair full of jagged memories and wry observations. As indicated by his back-to-front name, Hayes Carll is a 28-year-old Texan and this is his second album. Little Rock seeps regret, bristles with experience and oozes attitude - the product of a decade trying to fit into the American music machine. It's no accident that Ray Wylie Hubbard is repeatedly name-checked; Carll shares many of the same characteristics: twisted irony, a love of the dark side and a slurred voice worn down by the weight of expectations, but always ready to kick it out one more time, as on the title track, one of 10 written or co-written by Carll. Producer RS Field's loose, feisty production captures the mood bang on and helps whet the appetite for Carll's appearance at Whelan's in Dublin on February 17th with the great Buddy Miller.
- The Irish Times

Somewhere, not too deep inside Houston native Hayes Carll, lives a very old soul with a pair of dice in hand. It's obvious from his wearied tenor on "Wish I Hadn't Stayed So Long," opening his second album, Little Rock, that this soul has something to say and that we must listen. That's because layered evenly between Carll's world-weary wisdom and pristine melodies lies the sweet promise that good writers always make: Listen to my words and their truth will set you free ? or at least make life a bit easier. At least that's what Carll has been doing, soaking up good writers like Guy Clark and Ray Wylie Hubbard, who turned up to co-author "Rivertown" and "Chickens" respectively. That helps make Little Rock an Americana gem, with songs like "Down the Road Tonight," "Long Way Home," and the title track making life a little easier. Much of Carll's charm is his between-set patter, regrettably missing on disc, yet the strengths of his compositions are such that they need no padding. And the dice in hand? They're Hayes Carll's willingness to gamble that the well-worn singer-songwriter genre can make room for one more. - Margaret Moser

Of all the young Texans opting for the rowdy troubadour route over the Nashville star trek, Carll is the first since Jack Ingram with the talent to sit at the bar with his honky-tonk heroes. His second album, Little Rock, carries the cold-water splash of hearing early Joe Ely or Robert Earl Keen; it's the sound of a true talent finding his legs. Producer R.S. Field gives Carll's distinctive songs tightly flexed muscle, where most Lone Star youngsters settle for amateurish stomp. But it's the words and the drawling voice that deliver the punch. Belcourt Theatre —Michael McCall - Michael Mc Call

Hayes Carll comes off as an amalgam of some mighty Texas Troubadours. He evokes Townes Van Zandt lyrically, Guy Clark emotionally, Steve Earle stylistically and Ray Wylie Hubbard spiritually. Humbling company, but Carll's debut proves he belongs in that pantheon as he whirls through jaunty country rock, liquor-fueled honky-tonk and road-weary balladry. - Nate Dow

Hayes Carll continues H-town's hot streak with Little Rock

And sometimes I can't believe I did all that for a song / Hey I'm glad I came just wish I hadn't stayed so long.

So sings Hayes Carll in the chorus of "Wish I Hadn't Stayed So Long," the opener to Little Rock, his long-awaited second album. For Carll, if you believe his lyrics, the "all that" he did for his songs includes an arrest or two, whiskey by the gallon and weed by the bale, thousands of miles on the road, countless gigs in tough shrimper beer joints up and down the Texas coast, and a string of women from his Bolivar beach digs to the small town in Arkansas where he went to college. And unlike so many of the Coors Light Crooners on the alt-country scene, you do believe the words in his songs, because it's apparent that he has lived 'em.

There's no yee-haw-Shiner Bock-on-the-Guadalupe-with-Ol' Willie crap here, just honest stuff about what happened to your high school buddies, getting robbed on the road and plain old chickens. There's also a touching lament for a dead friend and a refreshingly nuanced breakup song. Equally refreshing is the fact that when Carll does resort to geographical references -- as the Texas Bowel Movement jake-legs do on every album -- he at least breaks out a map of Arkansas. ("Everybody back home has been making a lot of money writing songs about Texas," Carll writes in the liner notes. "I got in the game a little too late to take advantage of it so I've started writing songs about Arkansas. My tour bus is on the way.")

Clearly, Carll failed to succumb to a sophomore slump. Not that the pressure wasn't on. Songwriters like Carll often have a hard time following up debuts as successful as his Flowers and Liquor. First records are adorned with a lifetime of material, and the element of surprise works in the artist's favor. People want to like music by strangers; they want to make discoveries.

But after that the burden gets heavier. It's like a high-jump competition: Whatever fans you made of your first record set the bar for your second, and you've got to hurl yourself over it. Carll has done so, and what's more, he's done it all on his own.

A year or so ago a major independent label, one that is home to a few artists Carll idolizes, offered him a deal. Carll turned it down. "I just couldn't see spending the next ten years of my life not controlling what I have," he has said. He later said striking out on his own helped him sidestep some of the pressures of the sophomore album. "I guess there is a bit of pressure in putting out a good record by yourself, but I guess the good thing about not having millions of fans and a record company is that expectations aren't that high from tons of people," he says. "I felt like I could make a good record and please the people who like me, but I still felt unformed enough to where I could do what I wanted and not feel too guilty about it."

Carll enlisted veteran roots-rock producer R.S. Field, the Kanye West of Americana, whose credits include albums by Buddy Guy, Scott Miller, Sonny Landreth and Billy Joe Shaver. "I met R.S. when he was doing Freedom's Child for Billy Joe Shaver in Nashville," says Carll. "We just kind of hit it off -- he's a funny guy, and I liked his thoughts on making records and he liked my stuff, so we talked for about a year."

"I liked his personality and sitting around talking with him," says Field. "I kinda liked his first record, but then I heard him play a couple of times at the Sutler in Nashville, and there were maybe 12 people there, nine of who came to see this Australian songwriter. And I just thought Hayes was really good live. He just had that bucolic, amiable, self-deprecating sense of humor, and over the course of hearing him two or three times, I would just hear more and more songs that I liked."

Field was once a Texan -- in about 1976 he was part of a mass migration of Mississippians that congealed as the Howlers, which Omar Dykes still fronts today. And while Field self-identifies as having been more of a rollicking Commander Cody-style sky pilot in those days, he says he always had an affinity for the then-fading progressive country movement, one that he sees reborn in Carll. "Willie, Ray Wylie, Jerry Jeff and all that," Field says. "That kind of non-hipster, Texas, folk songs, pot, old Gibson guitar aesthetic. One thing I liked about Hayes was that he was like that; he appealed to me more than the new college alt-country branding that was going on."

Since Carll was self-financing the record, it took both extra time and extra goodwill to get in the studio with Field. "There was a pretty limited budget, but he pulled in some favors and got some studio guys to work with me," says Carll.

"I call some records 'economy with dignity,' but this was almost economy without dignity," says Field with a laugh. "We had a stripped-down band, and I don't know that we ignored the more acoustic elements of his fi - John Nova Lomax

It's awful early into 2005 to claim a year's best country effort, but Little Rock, from Houston native Hayes Carll, hearkens back to a time when country was honest, simple and tough. "I don't care if it's backwoods country, and I don't care if it's rock and roll," Carll sings on "Sit in With the Band," expressing the same sort of genre cohabitation championed by Gram Parsons and the Stones circa Beggar's Banquet. Check out the credible swamp blues of "Chickens" or the lively honky-tonk strut of "Down the Road Tonight" as convincing evidence that country can rock without turning into a trench-coat-and-mullet convention. With songs co-written with Guy Clark and Ray Wylie Hubbard, Carll is a much-needed younger voice in the alternative country wasteland. Full of spit and humor, Little Rock is the sound of roots breaking free of its constraints. - Darryl R. Smyers

He has paid his dues at the Steve Earle school of whiskey-soaked country rock and bleeding-heart ballads. Given his confident southern swagger and quality songwriting, Hayes clearly has it in him to climb to the top of the Americana tree...on both sides of the Atlantic. The young singer's engaging drawl could easily belong to someone twice his age, so easy, so effortless is his delivery. It doesn't matter whether he's handling a song like the yearning Take Me Away or a high-octane wig-out like Little Rock because here, it seems, is a dude fully in control of his destiny. The rapid-fire Down The Road Tonight recalls Bob Dylan's Subterranean Homesick Blues but changes the setting from New York's streets to a riotous Texas bar room. Another cracker is his collaboration with the esteemed Ray Wylie Hubbard on dirty blues closer Chickens. Yee-hah!
- The Sun (London)

"New Texas cult hero finally gains UK release for his acclaimed Americana album".

Honky Tonkin' with a make believe snarl and a sparkle in his eye, Hayes Carll has all the attitude and song writing bite to have caused quite a stir since this was released Stateside. Right now, just about every commentator on Americana over there is batting for him, thanks to his smile-inducing style and obvious star potential. Just watch the ripples turn to waves now that the album has finally been issued in the UK. What has earned him almost universal appeal is the smart pacing of the rock n roll delivery with a fine grade of Steve Earle grit in the mix. Much of the material is tongue in cheek and built around personal reflections. Seemingly experienced beyond his years, he has a kind of wry smile that has observed the world around him closely but found a way to stop short of cynical. Miller and Ray Wylie Hubbard, both use every chance they get to sing Carll's praises, the latter contributing some co-writing skills (loose description this time) on the only meaningless track of the thirteen, a piece of pure padding called "Chickens" which is little more than a dabble at second-rate boogie. At least in the sleeve notes he has the decency to comment: 'Ray and I felt that what the world needed was a song about chickens. There is a good chance that we were wrong'. That's the one real low point, though. "Rivertown" is a different matter altogether, this time with Guy Clark helping out to create a moody gem. Allison Moorer adds silky smooth backing vocals on "Take Me Away" and "Good Friends", as he ponders what's become of his high school buddies. "Hey, Baby, Where you Been?" recalls how he was mugged twice during his first ever solo tour, in Memphis and New York, and left to wonder why. 'The one good thing about being poor', he says, 'is that you don't have a whole lot for people to steal. Somewhere in Tennessee, someone has a toothbrush that doesn't belong to them'. If he can keep churning out material of this caliber, Hayes Carll will not be poor for very much longer. --LT
- Maverick (London)


Wish I Hadn't Stayed So Long (Sgl)
October 2004
From Little Rock
Highway 87 Music

Little Rock (LP)
Highway 87 Music

Down The Road Tonight (Sgl)
Little Rock
June 2005

Flowers and Liquor (LP)
Compadre Records



Hayes Carll is one of the best of a new breed of Texas singer/songwriters. He has cut his teeth working the same coffee houses, honky-tonks and bars that have spawned the likes of Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt, Steve Earle, and Lyle Lovett . In the past three years he has been traveling back and forth across the US, Canada, the UK and Europe performing in support of his second cd, Little Rock. This self-released album went # 1 and ranked #3 overall for the year on the 2005 Americana Radio chart with over 13,000 spins. The success of Little Rock has led to a deal on the Lost Highway Label which is home to the likes of Lyle Lovett, Lucinda Williams, Willie Nelson, ELvis Costello, Van Morrison and a number of other great artists. His debut cd on Lost Highway is scheduled to be released in April of 2008.

Carll is, by his own admission, a bit of a gambler. And judging from the singer-songwriter’s stage presence, he must have one hell of a good poker face. Whether he’s facing an intimate listening room audience or a packed dance hall of noisy, potentially hostile patrons hungry for the headliner, it’s always the same Hayes: shambling more than walking on stage like a guy who’s just woken from a restless sleep with a horrible hangover, reaching for an acoustic guitar when a pot of black coffee seems more in order. “This guy,” you invariably think, “is a mess.” That’s when he shows his hand, and you find you’ve been hustled.

“I like to watch him,” offers Hayes’ friend Ray Wylie Hubbard, a rumpled hustler of a troubadour in his own right, “because it’s kind of like watching two trains heading full speed toward each other on the same track: it’s just a matter of time. But he’s always very in control, even though sometimes he doesn’t give that appearance. He walks on that stage, and he just owns it — like it’s his time, his stage, and he has total control and keeps your attention his whole set. And I admire that.”

That’s no mere blurb or nod of approval from one Texas songwriter to another; it’s a dead-on portrait of the artist as a young man: off the tracks with a clear sense of purpose. As Hayes declares in “Wish I Hadn’t Stayed So Long,” from his second album, Little Rock, “I’m gonna burn down all my bridges, grab a car and drive away.” That’s not reckless; that’s a man with a plan.

“I’ve kind of been searching this out for a long time,” muses Hayes, reflecting on the oft curious and at times downright puzzling path he’s followed in his life and career thus far. “I’d live wherever I could or do whatever job I could to find the material and find the point of view for the songs, and to be successful at it. And all in all, it’s working out pretty good. I’m a pretty content human being … with not a whole lot more demons than your average, twisted folk singer.”

At the moment, said twisted folk singer is sitting on his porch in Conroe, Texas, a little town a mere five minutes north of The Woodlands, the affluent Houston suburb where Hayes grew up. Considering that it wasn’t that long ago that Hayes couldn’t escape The Woodlands fast enough, his current proximity to home suggests a prodigal son settling down — complete with a 14-month-old son and a fiancé — after a few good years of devil-may-care rambling. Truth is, both the man and his career have never been more on the move.

“This has actually been my busiest year,” says Hayes, who recorded the bulk of Little Rock in January 2004 and spent the rest of the year playing just shy of 200 gigs across not only his native Texas but the rest of the U.S. and up into Canada. All of those shows found him still faithfully working his 2002 debut, the acclaimed Flowers and Liquor. Now that Little Rock is finally ready for its public, he’s chomping at the bit to really hit the road.

“That first record came out two-and-a-half years ago, and that’s a long time to wait,” says Hayes. “It drove me nuts for a while, because I want people to see my new songs and what I’ve done or where I’ve gone, and it’s just hard to keep handing out the same product. It’s still me, but it’s from a different part of my life and I’m ready for them to see a new part.”

To wit, while the bulk of Flowers and Liquor offered a whisky-soaked snapshot of Hayes’ life right out of college, living amongst the “rednecks and outlaws” that populated Crystal Beach, Texas on the Bolivar Peninsula, Little Rock is all about where he is now.

“When you’re young, it’s hard to think of original ideas other than loneliness, alcohol and sex,” Hayes says of his debut, with a hint of the deadpan self-deprecation that makes his stage banter as entertaining as his songs. “I can’t say that I’ve really evolved all that much since then — I still sing about alcohol — but I don’t want ‘Flowers and Liquor’ to be my anthem or something that I have to be singing for years down the road. I’d like to evolve a little as a writer, and this time around, there were just some other interesting things to sing about.”