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If you would have told anyone five years ago that Hayes Carll was gonna be the guy sitting inside of the Paste Studio, crooning and contemplative, lightly finger picking an acoustic guitar and dropping simplistically striking one-liners about the quest for authenticity and the desire to redefine your life, they might have scoffed. Honestly, the apprehension towards seeing him in that light has more to do with where he’s coming from as an artist. Carll’s 2011 album KMAG YOYO (“Kiss My Ass Guys, You’re On Your Own”) was this jovial honky tonk affair that happened to double as his most commercially successful venture to date. But as the steady beam of light in our office reflected off the stool on which Carll was seated, the sound of his burgundy leathers tapping a steady rhythm against the shiny metal legs filled out the songs of a man who just isn’t in that “kiss my ass” head space anymore. Instead, with the batch of songs on his most recent project Lovers and Leavers, he seems, more than anything, like a man ready to tactfully share what it is he’s learned with whoever is willing to listen.
Don’t let the words “honky tonk” fool you even for a second. Carll is a songwriter in every sense of the word. While KMAG YOYO was a modern, lyrical, focused exercise in Americana, Lovers and Leavers is genuinely all of those things funneled into tastefully subdued folk. Watch Carll’s session right here.