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Hayes Carll

Trouble in Mind – 2008 (Lost Highway)

Reviewed by David McPherson

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CDs by Hayes Carll

Lovers, hangovers, gigs and gals - these are just a sampling of subjects Hayes Carll covers on his major-label debut. Following his successful sophomore disc "Little Rock" (2004), which became the first self-released disc to make it to number 1 on the Americana Music Chart, the 32-year-old Texan troubadour returns with a tour de force.

Carll opens with "Drunken Poets Dream," where Carll's woman "likes to lay naked and be gazed upon" and "wine bottles are scattered like last night's clothes." This catchy country-rocker sets the tone for the 13 songs to come - all sprinkled with satire, southern sensibility and sharp observations of life. The best cut, "Bad Liver and a Broken Heart, features great lines such as: "I got a girl in Henrietta/Her love's like tornado weather." Known for his relentless touring - more than 200 plus nights per year - Carll chronicles this life with the fun, honky-tonkin, "I Got a Gig." Add a bevy of ballads that shows Carll's softer side ("Don't Let Me Fall" "Willing to Love Again.") and the tongue-in-cheek "She Left Me for Jesus" that bookends the disc, and it all adds up to the best record so far in 2008. Townes, Clark, Earle, Lovett...if Carll keeps this up, it won't be long before Carll's name is included in the same sentence when talking about the who's who of Lone Star State songwriters.