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      Hayes Carll in Mill Valley

      • Hayes Carll Photo #1
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      October 5, 2019

      Saturday   8:00 PM

      19 Corte Madera Avenue
      Mill Valley, California 94941

      Hayes Carll

      with Purple Glaze
      The chorus to the title track on the new Hayes Carll album, What It Is, is a manifesto. What it was is gone forever / What it could be God only knows.What it is is right here in front of me / and Im not letting go.Hes embracing the moment. Leaving the past where it belongs, accepting theres no way to know whats ahead, and challenging himself to be present in both love and life. Its heady stuff. It also rocks.With a career full of critical acclaim and popular success, Carll couldve played it safe on this, his sixth record, but he didnt. The result is a musically ambitious and lyrically deep statement of an artist in his creative prime.Hayes Carlls list of accomplishments is long. His third album, 2008s Trouble In Mind, earned him an Americana Music Association Award for Song of the Year (for She Left Me for Jesus). The follow-up, KMAG YOYO was the most played album on the Americana Chart in 2011 and spawned covers by artists as varied as Hard Working Americans and Lee Ann Womack, whose version of "Chances Are" garnered Carll a Grammy nomination for Best Country Song. 2016s Lovers and Leavers swept the Austin Music Awards, and was his fourth record in a row to reach #1 on the Americana Airplay chart. Kelly Willis and Kenny Chesney have chosen to record his songs and his television appearances include The Tonight Show, Austin City Limits, and Later w/Jools Holland. Carll is the rare artist who can rock a packed dancehall one night and hold a listening room at rapt attention the next. Repeating myself creatively would ultimately leave me empty. Covering new ground, exploring, and taking chances gives me juice and keeps me interested.He knew he wanted to find the next level. On What It Is, he clearly has. It wasnt necessarily easy to get there. Carlls last release, 2016s Lovers and Leavers was an artistic and commercial risk a bold move which eschewed the tempo and humor of much of his previous work. The record revealed a more serious singer-songwriter dealing with more serious subjects divorce, new love in the middle of life, parenting, the worth of work. What It Is finds him now on the other side, revived and happy, but resolute no longer under the impression that any of it comes for free.I want to dig in so this life doesnt just pass me by. The more engaged I am the more meaning it all has. I want that to be reflected in the work.And meaning there is. Carll sings but I try because I want to, on the albums opening track, NoneYa. Hes not looking back lamenting love lost, rather, finding joy and purpose in the one hes got and hanging on to the woman who sometimes leaves him delightedly scratching his head. If I May Be So Bold, finds him standing on similar ground lyrically taking on the challenge of participating fully in life rather than discontentedly letting life happen. Bold enough to not surrender bold enough to give a damnBold enough to keep on going or to stay right where I amTheres a whole world out there waiting full of stories to be toldIll heed the call and tellem all if I may be so boldTheres no wishy washy here and hes not on the sidelines. In fact, hes neck-deep in life. On the rambunctious, fiddle-punctuated, Times Like These, he laments political division in America while delivering a rapid-fire plea to do my labor, love my girl, and help my neighbor, while keeping all my joie de vivre. Carlls signature cleverness and aptitude for so-personal-you-might-miss-it political commentary is as strong as ever. The stark, Fragile Men, co-written with singer-songwriter Lolo, uses humor and dripping sarcasm to examine his genders resistance to change in less than three minutes of string-laden, almost Jacques Brel invoking drama. Its new musical territory for Carll, and the result is powerful. His voice is strong and resonant on these songs, and its thrilling to hear him use it with a new authority. He is alternately commanding and tender, yet always soulful.Carll returned to trusted producer Brad Jones (producer of 2008s Trouble in Mind and 2011s KMAG YOYO) and Alex the Great Studio in Nashville, Tennessee, to record What It Is, and recruited singer-songwriter, author, and fiancee Allison Moorer as co-producer. The production is adventurous while keeping the focus on the singer and his songs and providing a path for him to go where he wants to go. Where that is, is forward.Thats evident in the songwriting. Carll continues to hone his singular voice, but is also a flexible co-writer. Matraca Berg, Charlie Mars, Adam Landry, and Moorer have co-writing credits here, but it was Moorers inspiration that provided the largest impact.On the songwriting front shes just a pro. She helps me cut through the noise and she does it with wit and style.Carlls own wit and style has never been more evident. Whether its with the put-you-in-picture detail of, Beautiful Thing, the not quite sheepish enough, dude-esque defense of dishonesty in, Things You Dont Wanna Know, or the strong as a tree trunk declaration of love on, I Will Stay, he displays an increasing command of his poetic lexicon. Writers most often wrestle with experience and expectations, either romanticizing the past or telling us how good its going to be when they get where theyre going. What It Is is a record that is rooted solidly in the present, revealing an artist in the emotional and intellectual here and now.

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