Hayes Carll is in his element at George’s

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 168 views 

One might expect to find Texas musician Hayes Carll cramped in the corner of a bar with sawdust floors, lit only by the dim of the beer signs’ light. He’d fit just fine in a dive filled with the haze of cigarette smoke hanging over the heads of a drinking crowd ready to party.

His music elicits images of bar brawls and boots; fortunately for us, Carll is playing Thursday (April 26) at George’s Majestic Lounge, where the threats of bar brawls are minimal but boots are encouraged.

With a “less is more,” Dylan-esque style of lyrical simplicity, Carll is the kind of songwriter and musician worthy of titles like “troubadour” or “poet”, albeit a drunken and rowdy one. His battered and knowing voice is coarse yet joyful, perfect for his lyrics filled with humor, wit and insight. A masterful storyteller, his party songs make you wish that you could call him a buddy, or at the least, be a fly on his wall, and he can sing a sad song with a pain so sincere and familiar, you wonder if he hasn’t been a fly on yours somewhere along the way.

His lyrical genius is matched by his musicality. His music most often fits into the Americana or Texas country genre and is filled with the jangly twang of southern steel and electric guitars that falls in the overflow of rockabilly, Texas swing and rock ‘n’ roll. His band’s straightforward percussion is the perfect compliment to Carll’s no-frills approach to tunes about drinking, women, living and loving.

While he might fit well in that dimly lit dive bar, Carll has amassed quite a bit of success while flying just under the radar. Several of his songs were featured in the 2010 drama Country Strong starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Tim McGraw. It’s said that the character who sang his songs, “Beau” (played by Garrett Hedlund), is a role that was actually inspired by Carll.

He has also earned critical acclaim from the Americana Music Association and in Rolling Stone, Esquire and Spin magazines. American Songwriter named “Another Like You,” his sexually charged duet with Carrie Ann Hearst (of Shovels and Rope), as the No. 1 song of 2011, on a list where Carll surpassed legends Paul Simon and Tom Waits, as well as contemporary artists Adele and Florence + The Machine. “Another,” a quirky song that tells the story of a couple with opposing political viewpoints, Carll says the song goes to prove “there’s nothing that can’t be overcome with a little bit of physical attraction and a lot of alcohol.”

Carll is a charming performer who makes one feel like a friend. He tells stories between songs, and his laid-back demeanor makes every aspect of his show entertaining and enjoyable.