Hey Love finds Hayden at his most vulnerable, often waxing poetic about the fatalistic nature of love and the eroding forces that torture relationships. His breathy vocals sound like a man who is exhausted by the trials and tribulations of the everyday: "If it's not one thing, it is another, these are troubled times" he sings on "Troubled Times"; the theme is equally recognizable on "If More Things Go Wrong." Chilled tempos, sombre piano chords and laboured acoustic strums express the weight that Hayden is under.
It also explains his appreciation for his lover and the "us against the world" stance he shows here. Concluding track "Shelter" frames the relationship: one-on-one with the piano, Hayden sings, "Some water and batteries, and enough food for weeks / Yeah come to the backyard and join me underground / Even though they'll beg us to let them in, we won't."
Alternating between optimism and cynicism, the repetitive progression and arrangements of the songs tend to border on being static. And yet, there is stark reality in Hayden's songwriting. These are songs of modest triumph, songs about the rock that steadies him, or the buoy that keeps him afloat. Struggling with mortality and loneliness, his songs mark the victory in barely surviving in the face existential crisis, and finding meaning in love: "Time ain't slowing down for us," he sings. "What else can we do but love?" (Arts & Crafts)