Staff pick: Hayes Carll at Skully's
The Nashville-via-Texas songwriter visits Columbus on the heels of yet another funny, charming, incisive and emotionally devastating album
In “Nice Things,” the leadoff track from Hayes Carll’s newly released eighth album, You Get It All, God comes down to Earth in female form to revel in the created world, but from the get-go, things don’t go so well. While fishing in Georgia, she reels in an oil barrel. While enjoying a toke with a kindhearted old hitchhiker, she gets thrown in jail. After her release, while penniless and on the hunt for a cup of coffee, she passes by an angry mob.
“She asked one for a dollar/And they said, ‘Sinner, get a job,’” sings Carll with a nearly audible, wry smile before returning to the chorus, and the moral of the story: “This is why y’all can’t have nice things.”
It’s yet another track from a remarkably consistent country-folk songwriter who, in the footsteps of John Prine, Lyle Lovett and the like, can make you laugh, prick your conscience and break your heart at the same time (and make it look easy). You Get It All does each of those things over and again, building off the creative partnership between Carll and producer Allison Moorer, his wife.
"It’s been almost 20 years of touring and of living a certain way, and I realized it wasn’t working for me. It ultimately left me hollow. I felt disconnected,” Carll told Alive a couple of years ago after releasing 2019 album What It Is. “I looked at the next 20 years and thought, ‘That’s gonna go by even quicker. I need to have more to show for this next 20.’ Doing the same thing wasn’t going to accomplish that. And having a really smart and vibrant partner who challenges you and pushes you can certainly help speed up that process. … The record wouldn’t have been there without her, and in many ways I wouldn’t be where I am without her.”
Carll’s giving of his whole self to the relationship is on display in the title track: “All my cards are on the table, and darlin' it's your call/I'm all in, so lose or win, you get it all,” he sings.
Elsewhere, Carll inhabits the persona of a dementia patient on the gut-wrenching “Help Me Remember,” one of the more moving songs you’ll hear this year. Check out the video below, though if you don’t like crying in public, maybe wait for a private moment.