Published Mar 24, 2008When it comes to low-down honky tonk music, sometimes theres nothing wrong with reinventing the wheel. That is, only if the artist in question possesses the songwriting savvy of Hayes Carll. Trouble In Mind is the 32-year-old Texans first major label release after two acclaimed indie albums, and it shows hes fully prepared to take the next step to larger stages. Although he receives significant musical assistance from premier pickers like Dan Baird and Al Perkins, the albums raw, lively spirit harkens back to the rebelliousness of a young Steve Earle, especially on boozy rockers like "Bad Liver And A Broken Heart and "Wild As A Turkey. However, Carll is no mere rube; his poetic sensibilities are in fact finely honed, and he is able to toss out lyrical gems like "I still cant figure out which is worse/Riding behind or inside the hearse with effortless consistency. Its almost as if Carll is able to channel the work of all his Texas forebears whenever necessary, even Kinky Friedman on the hilarious closer "She Left Me For Jesus. With a moving, twang-y cover of Tom Waits "I Dont Wanna Grow Up thrown in for good measure, Trouble In Mind is easily one of the standout roots rock releases already this year.
Judging from the sound, Id guess you had a lot of fun making this record.
Yeah, it was the first time I had the chance to bring in some people to help out. My first two records were each done in about a week, but on this one I got some time to experiment. I ended up writing a lot of the songs in the studio. The ones I came in with were kind of sombre and depressing but after hanging out with the guys, I came up with some songs that had a bit more life.
The album has an unmistakable Texas stamp on it too. Is it important for you to be a part of that states songwriting tradition?
I dont consciously think of it when Im writing. Most of these songs just came from personal memories, and I guess I namedrop cities a lot. My career has mainly been based there up until this point, so its kind of hard to get around it. If its all about writing what you know, then hanging out in bars in Texas is what I know.
Youve recently been touring with Corb Lund in western Canada. Have you noticed any similarities?
All of Canada has been pretty good to me so far but yeah, in Alberta the songs kind of worked on a different level. People really got off on the foot-stomping country songs more, and that reminded me of Texas. Actually, Calgary seemed a lot like Fort Worth, and I think Corb and I could do some great shows together down there. (Lost Highway/Universal)