Sunday, March 2, 2014

Week 8

Run Wolves Run by Sean Hayes

Yeah yeah, I know I'm late on this one. So what. Some reviews take longer than others!

Sean Hayes is a North Carolina native that doesn't exactly fit the bill for today's indie artists. For starters, he's 44. And then, he's four years over the hill. But don't let that influence you. I've been diggin' on Sean for a few years now, and I've always found his songwriting and folk-blues style very refreshing. Maybe an appropriate mashup would be between Bill Withers and Neil Young?

Anyway, Run Wolves Run in Hayes' seventh studio album. Every track on this one has a very organic, un-digitalized feel. I think this is pretty characteristic of the folk genre, but in any case, not having my face blasted by synth patches, electric guitar, and 808s is appreciated!

This album is simple. It's a collection of thoughts about life. You could probably argue that most real albums are, but it takes some serious experience and creativity to reduce complex ideas like love, life, loss, and truth down to a few verses. Luckily for us, Mr. Hayes done did it. 

The first track is "When We Fall In." And you could probably guess that it's referring to love. This along with "Powerful Stuff" are my two favorite songs from this album for the same reason. They're both wide open in terms of instruments and vocals, but still portray some heavy ideas without making me feel like I'm in a grunge power balled music video. Funky acoustic guitar riffs, upright bass, and the occasional call-and-response background vocals make both songs hard to skip.

The album's third and ninth tracks are more centered on life and its totality. "Garden" and "One Day the River" comment on our limited time as human beings, albeit in very different ways. "Garden" is the more optimistic lyrically speaking, but it's wrapped up in a plodding, pensive package where "The River" is the opposite - upbeat groove with the same ideas as the ol' 'dust to dust' proverb. 

It wouldn't be a Sean Hayes album if there weren't a few tracks that boldly addressed the chemistry (or lack thereof) between a man and woman. Songs like "So Down," which begin with 'Put on your high heels and give it to me baby,' and the Mofro-esque "Gunnin'" leave little to imagination with regards to what we're talking about here.

One of the most thoughtful songs on Run Wolves Run is "Soul Shaker." This one you need to hear for yourself. Just know that once again, Mr. Hayes combines a very upbeat feel-good instrumental section to a subject that is not. 

The remaining tracks, "Me and My Girl," "Shake Your Body," and "Stella Seed" are solidly written but didn't do it for this reviewer. You can check 'em out for yourself.

In conclusion, this album is a great foray into that which is Sean Hayes. Thoughtful, simple writing combined with down-home blues funk makes this disc enjoyable for fans of indie, folk, and good old-fashioned blues alike. 

Check it out!

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