Hayes Carll Record Review
Lovers and Leavers (Hwy 87/Thirty Tigers)
Reviewed by Raoul Hernandez, Fri., April 8, 2016
Lovers and Leavers isn't an anomaly. Lone Star codification opens Hayes Carll's 2002 debut Flowers and Liquor, a jaunty drawl befitting Ray Wylie Hubbard on "Highway 87" (see label above) and "Naked Checkers" stripping down to its Lyle Lovett. That fan appreciation resulted in the former outlaw's penmanship on the succeeding Little Rock ("Chickens") and a co-write by Guy Clark ("Rivertown"). Trouble in Mind completes the mentor/protégé cycle in Hubbard/Carll hit "Drunken Poet's Dream," but Steve Earle starkness ("Don't Let Me Fall") bleeds Dylan-esque ("A Lover Like You") on the way to a Tom Waits cover ("I Don't Wanna Grow Up") – song apprenticeships still. By KMAG YOYO in 2011, integration's complete even if the joke's gone too far ("Another Like You"), yet Carll's also perfected his first-day country-folk into pure Mark Twain ("The Letter"). Lovers and Leavers pays off its predecessor's bar tab by shucking off all but the sonic essentials, not naked so much as modest. Quiet. Drums, bass, and piano pulse miles below the steel strum of an acoustic guitar and the singer's plaintive twang on "Good While It Lasted." Pace car "Drive," co-written with Jim Lauderdale, moves at the speed of human blindness ("Shooting star, racing through the night/ As long as you keep moving, you won't ever die"), but does so at an on-foot tempo. A Flowers and Liquor-style homage to Townes Van Zandt whips up the snappy faux noir of "Sake of the Song," a Carll classic only half as landmark as the balladic brushstrokes stirring Tom Petty's Southern accents on "The Love That We Need." In this context, consider organ-hummed ditty "Love Is So Easy" comic relief. Lovers and Leavers, Hayes Carll assimilated.