Hayes Carll and Band On Point at Nashville’s Mercy Lounge

Blake Boldt | April 15th, 2011

For the first twenty minutes of his show at Nashville’s Mercy Lounge, Texas singer-songwriter Hayes Carll didn’t care much for small talk. Songs like “Hard Out Here” and “Trouble in Mind” passed by with barely a word uttered between them. Carll’s clever brand of country-rock, featuring incisive songwriting reminiscent of heroes Ray Wylie Hubbard and Robert Earl Keen, said about all he needed to say.

Carll, a Houston native who now resides in Austin, would have good reason to crow about his recent accomplishments. His fourth album, KMAG YOYO (And Other American Stories) debuted at No. 12 on the country albums chart in February, and five of his songs were featured in the recent motion picture Country Strong. After a few songs, Carll seemed more comfortable on stage, referring to “a recession or depression or whatever” and expressing his gratitude for all the ticket buyers in the audience.

The majority of the set list stemmed from his breakthrough album, 2008′s Trouble in Mind, but he reached back to his 2005 album Little Rock for a rambunctious version of its title track, and then he supplied his laconic drawl to the laidback “Wish I Hadn’t Stayed So Long.”

Adding a lively burst to the evening was Cary Ann Hearst, half of the opening act called Shovels and Rope, who duets with Carll on KMAG YOYO’s “Another Like You.” On a song that explains how alcohol and sex can trump politics, her tangy Southern-bred vocals served as a perfect counterpoint to Carll’s grumbling baritone.

He used the 80-minute performance to preview a new song: the tongue-in-cheek “One Bed, Two Girls, and Three Bottles of Wine” likely needs no further explanation. There were signs of better behavior, though: announcing that it was his wife’s 33rd birthday, he praised her for putting up with a traveling musician and eased into the sad but hopeful ballad “Willin’ to Love Again.”

Carll and his five-piece band, The Poor Choices, were predictably on point. Utility man Scott Davis laid the groundwork, leading the band on uptempo romps like “Stomp and Holler” (the audience accepted the challenge) and “KMAG YOYO.” The frontman has learned a musical trick or two, too: before “I Got a Gig,” Carll pulled out the banjo to perform what he said was the one song he’d learned on the instrument.

One notable omission on Thursday night was “She Left Me for Jesus,” the 2008 Americana Music Association’s Song of the Year. It’s a testament to the strength of Carll’s material that its absence didn’t leave a big void in the evening.

1 Ping

  1. [...] Reckon Hayes gets sick of hearing about the Country Strong comparison? [...]
  1. TX music jim
    April 15, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    I saw Hayes recently at Poor Davids Pub in Dallas. The guy has come a long way as a performer since I saw him open for Jack Ingram in 2005. He will be around a while. Me thinks Townes Van Zandt would be impressed.

  2. Rick
    April 15, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    Hayes is always worth catching in a live show even when he isn’t overly talkative. Hayes is just a natural born storyteller, and I don’t encounter many of those these days.

Tagged In This Article

// //

Current Discussion

  • Lynchie from Aberdeen: Delighted to hear that Hot Rize have a new album coming out – and thanks for the link to that …
  • luckyoldsun: Nobody can do Karaoke George Jones like Kershaw!
  • Bruce: LW, Don't apologize for your Bryant comment. You were more gracious than I would have been.
  • Bruce: My vote is for Marty Stuart for his exhaustive body of work that is directional yet diversified.
  • Leeann: Dang! Let me write my above sentence again!: Kelley MicKwee’s album is sounding good so far too. I really like “Beautiful …
  • paul w dennis: The Kershaw album is really noteworthy for its song selections. Other than "I'll Share My World With You", it omits …
  • Leeann: The Sammy Kershaw tribute to George Jones is pretty good on first listen. Of course, Sammy's no George, but their …
  • Jeremy Dylan: I did a podcast on Joni Mitchell's BLUE album recently and was wondering if there was a good bio of …
  • Leeann Ward: Well, that was a mighty unnecessarily flippant comment I just made there and the better angels of my nature make …
  • Leeann Ward: As for me, I'd realize I'd written a crappy song if Luke Bryan ended up being the one who wanted …

Recently Reviewed Albums

  • sandrarhodes
  • candi staton
  • sturgillsimpsonmetamodern
  • raypricebeautyis
  • rodneycrowelltarpapersky
  • rhondavincentonlyme
  • mandybgibson
  • paulburchfevers