Would Hayden's albums be so compelling if he didn't release them so far apart? It's a valid question now that the reclusive Thornhill, ON singer-songwriter has fallen into a (more or less) four-year cycle of releases. Like watching the latest instalment of Michael Apted's Up documentary series, part of listening to a new Hayden album for a long-time fan are moments of reflection about how both his life and yours have progressed during the interim. Us Alone produces many of those moments, as Hayden (now a father entering his 40s) has reached a point where his past has taken on a life of its own. "Almost Everything" is the key track, in this sense, setting a scene of early days playing to rapt audiences "sitting cross-legged on the floor, listening to my bedroom lore," before abruptly shifting to the present where he records as his child sleeps. This theme reoccurs in "Old Dreams" ("I don't need more reviews, not unless they're from you.") and most powerfully on closing track "Instructions," a detailed outlining of what to do with his body upon his death. In creating a warm, intimate sound emphasizing piano and organ over acoustic guitar for the first time, Hayden sounds content even when talking about mortality. It makes Us Alone an oddly comforting record, not exactly in a nostalgic sense, but in the knowledge that Hayden continues to embrace the future, not alone, but with the rest of us.