Posted on April 3rd, 2015 (11:00 am) by Nick Manai

Hayden Desser, or as he’s known to his fans, simply Hayden, has been mining the more somber and reflective side of the Canadian frontier for around twenty years now. It isn’t that Hayden writes songs specifically about the countryside or wilderness, actually many of his songs are about metropolitan anxieties, but that the formal tone of his arrangements coupled with his distinct lack of flair combine to set a bucolic, yet austere surrounding. The title of his third, and perhaps best received, album, Skyscraper National Park, perfectly reflected the dichotomy of setting or tone and subject that permeates through his best songs.

However, over the years Hayden has decided to cling fiercely to his outpost like a gnarly frontiersman set against an approaching IKEA. His music is constantly stripping itself of all vestments that could be mistaken for melody or rhythm, but where this gets him into trouble is when he is combines it with a heightened sense of ambiguity and ambivalence in his writing.

“I don’t need to blame love / But I guess I do sort of / I don’t want to feel love / I don’t want to be love,” he sings at the end of the first track to Hey Love, “Hearts Just Beat.” It isn’t that it is overly sorrowful, but without any firmly established roots the sentiment blows away in the wind. “Hey Love” is marked, stylistically, by a lagging drum kick and an intermittent piano chord. That’s just about it. In addition to Hayden’s resigned phrasings, one gets the sense of overindulgence.

“Nothing Easy Feels This Good” holds onto the same sluggish drum beat, adding a ripple of electric guitar, until a minute into the song there is a whining keyboard effect. It’s a two minute instrumental that could add a shift of atmosphere to a different kind of album, but on Hey Love it is two more minutes of the same inevitable slide.

“Orange Curtain Light” and “Hey Love” are both mournful piano ballads that stretch to find a real strain in Hayden’s voice. “Hey Love” holds one of the more enjoyable melodies on the whole album, and his dip into sorrowful regret feels well-earned and unfortunate. It has the muted tendencies of anxiety that a great song by The National carries, but without much of the melody and imagery.

Hayden’s catalog is full of this kind of austerity and Hey Love is nothing if not sincere. It is easy to believe the sentiments expressed on this LP, but harder to come to a physical connection with them. This is a feat that becomes even harder given that we have come to know Hayden for so many years and records already.

Track List:

  1. Hearts Just Beat
  2. Troubled Times
  3. No Happy Birthday
  4. Nothing Easy Feels This Good
  5. Time Ain't Slowing Down For Us
  6. Orange Curtain Light
  7. Come Back To Life
  8. Nowhere We Cannot Go
  9. Hey Love
  10. If More Things Go Wrong
  11. Five Seasons
  12. Just Come Out Tonight
  13. Shelter
Hayden - Hey Love Review
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

59 / 100
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