Houston singer/songwriter, Hayes Carll plays country music. Or, maybe you want to call it roots rock or Americana. If you need a specific comparison, Steve Earle’s not too far off. Whatever you call it, Carll delivers a solid set of songs on his first album for Lost Highway.
His songs are about whiskey, women, and wild times, and while they may not be revolutionary topics, Carll’s a smart enough writer that it’s still compelling. Whether he’s writing about all the dives he’s played in (“I Got a Gig”), the restlessness of youth past (“Faulkner Street”) or picking up women (“Wild as a Turkey”), he makes it fun. There are also some serious moments on songs like “Don’t Let Me Fall” and his cover of Tom Waits’ “I Don’t Wanna Grow Up,” that make the album feel more like the musings of a guy who is just trying to figure out what growing up looks like.
Carll even gets a little sappy on “Girl Downtown,” a song about unexpected love between a girl who’s as “pretty as a plate” and a boy who’s “slower than a fall.” Unflattering descriptions not withstanding, the sentiment that “Love’s not stuck. It just moves slow” is a nice one.
But without question the boldest (and funniest) song on the album is the closer, “She Left Me for Jesus.” With lines like, “She’s says that he’s perfect, how could I compare?” and “I bet he’s a commie or even worse yet a Jew,” it’s sure to offend some, especially when the chorus ends with, “She’s says I should find him and I’ll know peace at last. If I ever find Jesus, I’m kicking his ass.” At least as many people will love it, but either way, you won’t forget it.