Join acclaimed singer-songwriter Hayes Carll and a curated cast of some of his favorite musicians and singers for a holiday-themed evening of music and connection.

VIP available for purchase. Click here for tickets. (Requires a ticket to the show to attend).

Hayes Carll

The country simplicity that imbues Hayes Carll’s songs can sometimes hide the social conscience and sharp humor that also runs through them, but if you want to find those things, they are there. In fact, Carll has spent over 20 years having a conversation about what it is we’re all doing here with anyone who will listen. He makes us laugh––but then he makes us cry. We judge a song’s protagonist, only for Carll to spin us around to commiserate with them.

“I like to tug at heartstrings, find commonality with others, reflect on my own life, and sometimes I do it in a lighthearted way,” says Carll. “A lot of musical styles found their way onto this record, but my first and most formative influences came from country music. This is a country singer-songwriter record. It’s just unapologetically me.”

Carll is talking about You Get It All, his eighth album. His voice, rich but worn, has never sounded better. As a songwriter, he is in top form, turning droll confessions, messy relationships, motel room respites, and an exasperated, hitchhiking God into modern nuggets.

The New York Times likened Carll’s ability to undergird humor with a weightier narrative to Bob Dylan. When Carll talks about the sounds that are in his own head, he mentions Randy Travis. That juxtaposition defines the singularity of Carll’s career: He exists in a space of his own, informed by John Prine, Tom Waits, and Dylan but also by Travis, Kenny Rogers, and Hank Williams, Jr.

Those influences may have made him hard to pigeonhole, but he’s still been embraced. Two Americana Music Awards, a Grammy nomination for Best Country Song, and multiple Austin Music Awards line his resumé́. He’s had the most-played record on Americana radio twice. His songs appear on the screen regularly and have been recorded by Kenny Chesney, Lee Ann Womack, and Brothers Osborne, to name a few.

You Get It All was produced by Allison Moorer and guitar legend Kenny Greenberg. Carll credits his partnership with singer, songwriter, and artist Moorer, his wife, as a force that helps both clarify what he wants and challenge self-imposed limits. “She’s a world-class artist who has a way of helping me articulate my vision,” he says.

Opener “Nice Things” layers a laugh-out-loud narrative exposing humanity’s botched stewardship of Earth––and one another––over vintage country cool. In the song written with the Brothers Osborne, God comes down to check on us––and she is not impressed. “It’s social commentary, but it’s not dour,” Carll says. “I hope the song can make people sing along, laugh a bit, and maybe recognize that we can do better.”

The title track is classic Carll—a front-porch singalong with a deeper message for those who want it. Self-deprecating and sweet, the song is an ode to bringing one’s whole self to a relationship––the good and the bad. “I’m at a point in my life where that rings true to me,” says Carll. “What I want, and what I think a lot of people want, is to feel like they’re getting the real thing.”

“Help Me Remember” is a feat of storytelling that tackles an underrepresented topic in art: dementia from the perspective of the patient. “It’s a visual song. To tell this story, we had to put the listener right there,” Carll says. “I was thinking about how scary and sad it is for the person who is suffering from it, and how heartbreaking and frustrating it is for the friends and family going through it with them.”

Among Carll’s co-writers is singer-songwriter Brandy Clark, who helped him pen and perform “In the Mean Time,” a gorgeous, honky-tonk waltz which perfectly depicts the damage couples can inflict on each other when they’re at their worst. The multi-dimensionality of relationships is a thread woven throughout the entire album. “When we’re our weakest or most afraid, real damage can be done to our relationships, as well as our spirits,” says Carll. “You can love somebody, everything can be as good as you could’ve imagined, but when your traumas or fears come out, all that love can disappear in an instant.”

Rollicking through snarling 80s country guitar licks, “To Keep From Being Found” is an escape to a motel room with a TV on wheels, a bath, and line after delectable line.

Subdued album closer “If It Was Up to Me” aches through a list of wishes that seem frivolous at first but build into a portrait of pain that’s far more complicated. Written with Moorer and Sean McConnell, it’s a gorgeous example of one of Carll’s favorite artistic devices: leading listeners to underestimate a character with whom they’ll ultimately empathize. “The way humor and sadness can work together is powerful,” he says.

Honest and sometimes subversive, but never mean-spirited, Carll keeps writing sad, funny, compelling songs in which nobody’s perfect or predictable––at least not for long. And he can’t quit wishing we’ll all realize that’s the way anything worth having or being has got to go. “I hope this record helps people feel good, laugh a bit, and maybe give them something to lean on when they need it,” he says. “I hope they dance to it, too.”

Join acclaimed singer-songwriter Hayes Carll and a curated cast of some of his favorite musicians and singers for a holiday-themed evening of music and connection.

VIP available for purchase. Click Here for Tickets. (Requires a ticket to the show to attend).

Hayes Carll

The country simplicity that imbues Hayes Carll’s songs can sometimes hide the social conscience and sharp humor that also runs through them, but if you want to find those things, they are there. In fact, Carll has spent over 20 years having a conversation about what it is we’re all doing here with anyone who will listen. He makes us laugh––but then he makes us cry. We judge a song’s protagonist, only for Carll to spin us around to commiserate with them.

“I like to tug at heartstrings, find commonality with others, reflect on my own life, and sometimes I do it in a lighthearted way,” says Carll. “A lot of musical styles found their way onto this record, but my first and most formative influences came from country music. This is a country singer-songwriter record. It’s just unapologetically me.”

Carll is talking about You Get It All, his eighth album. His voice, rich but worn, has never sounded better. As a songwriter, he is in top form, turning droll confessions, messy relationships, motel room respites, and an exasperated, hitchhiking God into modern nuggets.

The New York Times likened Carll’s ability to undergird humor with a weightier narrative to Bob Dylan. When Carll talks about the sounds that are in his own head, he mentions Randy Travis. That juxtaposition defines the singularity of Carll’s career: He exists in a space of his own, informed by John Prine, Tom Waits, and Dylan but also by Travis, Kenny Rogers, and Hank Williams, Jr.

Those influences may have made him hard to pigeonhole, but he’s still been embraced. Two Americana Music Awards, a Grammy nomination for Best Country Song, and multiple Austin Music Awards line his resumé́. He’s had the most-played record on Americana radio twice. His songs appear on the screen regularly and have been recorded by Kenny Chesney, Lee Ann Womack, and Brothers Osborne, to name a few.

You Get It All was produced by Allison Moorer and guitar legend Kenny Greenberg. Carll credits his partnership with singer, songwriter, and artist Moorer, his wife, as a force that helps both clarify what he wants and challenge self-imposed limits. “She’s a world-class artist who has a way of helping me articulate my vision,” he says.

Opener “Nice Things” layers a laugh-out-loud narrative exposing humanity’s botched stewardship of Earth––and one another––over vintage country cool. In the song written with the Brothers Osborne, God comes down to check on us––and she is not impressed. “It’s social commentary, but it’s not dour,” Carll says. “I hope the song can make people sing along, laugh a bit, and maybe recognize that we can do better.”

The title track is classic Carll—a front-porch singalong with a deeper message for those who want it. Self-deprecating and sweet, the song is an ode to bringing one’s whole self to a relationship––the good and the bad. “I’m at a point in my life where that rings true to me,” says Carll. “What I want, and what I think a lot of people want, is to feel like they’re getting the real thing.”

“Help Me Remember” is a feat of storytelling that tackles an underrepresented topic in art: dementia from the perspective of the patient. “It’s a visual song. To tell this story, we had to put the listener right there,” Carll says. “I was thinking about how scary and sad it is for the person who is suffering from it, and how heartbreaking and frustrating it is for the friends and family going through it with them.”

Among Carll’s co-writers is singer-songwriter Brandy Clark, who helped him pen and perform “In the Mean Time,” a gorgeous, honky-tonk waltz which perfectly depicts the damage couples can inflict on each other when they’re at their worst. The multi-dimensionality of relationships is a thread woven throughout the entire album. “When we’re our weakest or most afraid, real damage can be done to our relationships, as well as our spirits,” says Carll. “You can love somebody, everything can be as good as you could’ve imagined, but when your traumas or fears come out, all that love can disappear in an instant.”

Rollicking through snarling 80s country guitar licks, “To Keep From Being Found” is an escape to a motel room with a TV on wheels, a bath, and line after delectable line.

Subdued album closer “If It Was Up to Me” aches through a list of wishes that seem frivolous at first but build into a portrait of pain that’s far more complicated. Written with Moorer and Sean McConnell, it’s a gorgeous example of one of Carll’s favorite artistic devices: leading listeners to underestimate a character with whom they’ll ultimately empathize. “The way humor and sadness can work together is powerful,” he says.

Honest and sometimes subversive, but never mean-spirited, Carll keeps writing sad, funny, compelling songs in which nobody’s perfect or predictable––at least not for long. And he can’t quit wishing we’ll all realize that’s the way anything worth having or being has got to go. “I hope this record helps people feel good, laugh a bit, and maybe give them something to lean on when they need it,” he says. “I hope they dance to it, too.”

Tickets on-sale to the public Friday, December 2nd at 10am.

VIP Experience add-on available for purchase at this link.  *** Note: A ticket to the concert AND the VIP Experience must be purchased  in order to gain access to this experience ***

Hayes Carll

The country simplicity that imbues Hayes Carll’s songs can sometimes hide the social conscience and sharp humor that also runs through them, but if you want to find those things, they are there. In fact, Carll has spent over 20 years having a conversation about what it is we’re all doing here with anyone who will listen. He makes us laugh––but then he makes us cry. We judge a song’s protagonist, only for Carll to spin us around to commiserate with them.

“I like to tug at heartstrings, find commonality with others, reflect on my own life, and sometimes I do it in a lighthearted way,” says Carll. “A lot of musical styles found their way onto this record, but my first and most formative influences came from country music. This is a country singer-songwriter record. It’s just unapologetically me.”

Carll is talking about You Get It All, his eighth album. His voice, rich but worn, has never sounded better. As a songwriter, he is in top form, turning droll confessions, messy relationships, motel room respites, and an exasperated, hitchhiking God into modern nuggets.

The New York Times likened Carll’s ability to undergird humor with a weightier narrative to Bob Dylan. When Carll talks about the sounds that are in his own head, he mentions Randy Travis. That juxtaposition defines the singularity of Carll’s career: He exists in a space of his own, informed by John Prine, Tom Waits, and Dylan but also by Travis, Kenny Rogers, and Hank Williams, Jr.

Those influences may have made him hard to pigeonhole, but he’s still been embraced. Two Americana Music Awards, a Grammy nomination for Best Country Song, and multiple Austin Music Awards line his resumé́. He’s had the most-played record on Americana radio twice. His songs appear on the screen regularly and have been recorded by Kenny Chesney, Lee Ann Womack, and Brothers Osborne, to name a few.

You Get It All was produced by Allison Moorer and guitar legend Kenny Greenberg. Carll credits his partnership with singer, songwriter, and artist Moorer, his wife, as a force that helps both clarify what he wants and challenge self-imposed limits. “She’s a world-class artist who has a way of helping me articulate my vision,” he says.

Opener “Nice Things” layers a laugh-out-loud narrative exposing humanity’s botched stewardship of Earth––and one another––over vintage country cool. In the song written with the Brothers Osborne, God comes down to check on us––and she is not impressed. “It’s social commentary, but it’s not dour,” Carll says. “I hope the song can make people sing along, laugh a bit, and maybe recognize that we can do better.”

The title track is classic Carll—a front-porch singalong with a deeper message for those who want it. Self-deprecating and sweet, the song is an ode to bringing one’s whole self to a relationship––the good and the bad. “I’m at a point in my life where that rings true to me,” says Carll. “What I want, and what I think a lot of people want, is to feel like they’re getting the real thing.”

“Help Me Remember” is a feat of storytelling that tackles an underrepresented topic in art: dementia from the perspective of the patient. “It’s a visual song. To tell this story, we had to put the listener right there,” Carll says. “I was thinking about how scary and sad it is for the person who is suffering from it, and how heartbreaking and frustrating it is for the friends and family going through it with them.”

Among Carll’s co-writers is singer-songwriter Brandy Clark, who helped him pen and perform “In the Mean Time,” a gorgeous, honky-tonk waltz which perfectly depicts the damage couples can inflict on each other when they’re at their worst. The multi-dimensionality of relationships is a thread woven throughout the entire album. “When we’re our weakest or most afraid, real damage can be done to our relationships, as well as our spirits,” says Carll. “You can love somebody, everything can be as good as you could’ve imagined, but when your traumas or fears come out, all that love can disappear in an instant.”

Rollicking through snarling 80s country guitar licks, “To Keep From Being Found” is an escape to a motel room with a TV on wheels, a bath, and line after delectable line.

Subdued album closer “If It Was Up to Me” aches through a list of wishes that seem frivolous at first but build into a portrait of pain that’s far more complicated. Written with Moorer and Sean McConnell, it’s a gorgeous example of one of Carll’s favorite artistic devices: leading listeners to underestimate a character with whom they’ll ultimately empathize. “The way humor and sadness can work together is powerful,” he says.

Honest and sometimes subversive, but never mean-spirited, Carll keeps writing sad, funny, compelling songs in which nobody’s perfect or predictable––at least not for long. And he can’t quit wishing we’ll all realize that’s the way anything worth having or being has got to go. “I hope this record helps people feel good, laugh a bit, and maybe give them something to lean on when they need it,” he says. “I hope they dance to it, too.”

Hayes Carll – What It Is
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 I’m not letting go.

 

He’s embracing the moment. Leaving the past where it belongs, accepting there’s no way to know what’s ahead, and challenging himself to be present in both love and life. It’s heady stuff. It also rocks.

With a career full of critical acclaim and popular success, Carll could’ve played it safe on this, his sixth record, but he didn’t. The result is a musically ambitious and lyrically deep statement of an artist in his creative prime.

Hayes Carll’s list of accomplishments is long. His third album, 2008’s 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. 2016’s 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 wasn’t necessarily easy to get there. Carll’s last release, 2016’s 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 doesn’t 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 album’s opening track, “None’Ya.” He’s not looking back lamenting love lost, rather, finding joy and purpose in the one he’s 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 damn

Bold enough to keep on going or to stay right where I am

There’s a whole world out there waiting full of stories to be told

I’ll heed the call and tell’em all if I may be so bold

 

There’s no wishy washy here and he’s not on the sidelines. In fact, he’s 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.” Carll’s 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 gender’s resistance to change in less than three minutes of string-laden, almost Jacques Brel invoking drama. It’s new musical territory for Carll, and the result is powerful. His voice is strong and resonant on these songs, and it’s 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 2008’s Trouble in Mind and 2011’s 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.

That’s 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 Moorer’s inspiration that provided the largest impact.

“On the songwriting front she’s just a pro. She helps me cut through the noise and she does it with wit and style.”

Carll’s own wit and style has never been more evident. Whether it’s with the put-you-in-picture detail of, “Beautiful Thing,” the not quite sheepish enough, dude-esque defense of dishonesty in, “Things You Don’t 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 it’s going to be when they get where they’re 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.

Hayes Carll – What It Is
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 I’m not letting go.

 

He’s embracing the moment. Leaving the past where it belongs, accepting there’s no way to know what’s ahead, and challenging himself to be present in both love and life. It’s heady stuff. It also rocks.

With a career full of critical acclaim and popular success, Carll could’ve played it safe on this, his sixth record, but he didn’t. The result is a musically ambitious and lyrically deep statement of an artist in his creative prime.

Hayes Carll’s list of accomplishments is long. His third album, 2008’s 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. 2016’s 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 wasn’t necessarily easy to get there. Carll’s last release, 2016’s 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 doesn’t 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 album’s opening track, “None’Ya.” He’s not looking back lamenting love lost, rather, finding joy and purpose in the one he’s 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 damn

Bold enough to keep on going or to stay right where I am

There’s a whole world out there waiting full of stories to be told

I’ll heed the call and tell’em all if I may be so bold

 

There’s no wishy washy here and he’s not on the sidelines. In fact, he’s 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.” Carll’s 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 gender’s resistance to change in less than three minutes of string-laden, almost Jacques Brel invoking drama. It’s new musical territory for Carll, and the result is powerful. His voice is strong and resonant on these songs, and it’s 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 2008’s Trouble in Mind and 2011’s 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.

That’s 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 Moorer’s inspiration that provided the largest impact.

“On the songwriting front she’s just a pro. She helps me cut through the noise and she does it with wit and style.”

Carll’s own wit and style has never been more evident. Whether it’s with the put-you-in-picture detail of, “Beautiful Thing,” the not quite sheepish enough, dude-esque defense of dishonesty in, “Things You Don’t 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 it’s going to be when they get where they’re 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.

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 I’m not letting go.

He’s embracing the moment. Leaving the past where it belongs, accepting there’s no way to know what’s ahead, and challenging himself to be present in both love and life. It’s heady stuff. It also rocks.

With a career full of critical acclaim and popular success, Carll could’ve played it safe on this, his sixth record, but he didn’t. The result is a musically ambitious and lyrically deep statement of an artist in his creative prime.

Hayes Carll’s list of accomplishments is long. His third album, 2008’s 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. 2016’s 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 wasn’t necessarily easy to get there. Carll’s last release, 2016’s 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 doesn’t 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 album’s opening track, “None’Ya.” He’s not looking back lamenting love lost, rather, finding joy and purpose in the one he’s 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 damn
Bold enough to keep on going or to stay right where I am
There’s a whole world out there waiting full of stories to be told
I’ll heed the call and tell’em all if I may be so bold

There’s no wishy washy here and he’s not on the sidelines. In fact, he’s 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.” Carll’s 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 gender’s resistance to change in less than three minutes of string-laden, almost Jacques Brel invoking drama. It’s new musical territory for Carll, and the result is powerful. His voice is strong and resonant on these songs, and it’s 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 2008’s Trouble in Mind and 2011’s 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.

That’s 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 Moorer’s inspiration that provided the largest impact.

“On the songwriting front she’s just a pro. She helps me cut through the noise and she does it with wit and style.”

Carll’s own wit and style has never been more evident. Whether it’s with the put-you-in-picture detail of, “Beautiful Thing,” the not quite sheepish enough, dude-esque defense of dishonesty in, “Things You Don’t 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 it’s going to be when they get where they’re 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.

I’m a singer-songwriter.

I think “Lovers and Leavers” comes closer to reflecting that than any other record I’ve made.

I didn’t worry about checking boxes, making sure there was something here for everybody, or getting on the radio.

I just took some much needed deep breaths and let them out on tape.

It’s been a while since my last album by some measurements of time. Not “history of the universe time”, or “getting a bill through congress time”, but in the lives of dogs and recording artists, five years and fifty-three days is only a little less than an eternity.

I went through a divorce. I fell in love.

Changes were made, realizations were realized, and life was lived.

But, I kept on writing songs, on my own and with a cast of accomplished characters who combined their own stories and perspectives with mine.

Songs about my friends.

Songs about my son.

Songs about beginnings and endings.

Songs about songs.

Songs about acceptance and regret.

Songs about lovers and leavers.

With these songs in hand, I needed a co-conspirator to help me get them to you.

I called on Joe Henry, a gentleman poet and an elegant artist who seemed a trustworthy steward for my collection.

We recorded this record live in five days, using just an acoustic guitar, a mix of bass, percussion, pianos and organs, and a touch of pedal steel.

I didn’t have one song that I knew would be a sing along or would make people dance. I felt vulnerable in a way that I hadn’t in a long time. But I got what I wanted – a record with space, nuance, and room to breathe. It felt right for my art. It felt right for my life.

“Lovers and Leavers” isn’t funny or raucous. There are very few hoots and almost no hollers.

But it is joyous, and it makes me smile.

No, it’s not my “Blood on the Tracks,” nor is it any kind of opus.

It’s my fifth record — a reflection of a specific time and place.

It is quiet, like I wanted it to be.

Like I wanted to be.

 

Hayes Carll

January 1, 2016

Austin, TX.