His girlfriend Allison Moorer (Shelby Lynne’s sister, Steve Earle’s ex-wife and an accomplished singer/songwriter in her own right) has just squeezed Carll’s hand goodbye to go get ready for her guest appearance at his show that night.Wearing a blue-denim jacket over a gray shirt and sporting a modest light-brown beard, Carll speaks in a subdued voice, as if not relishing this rehash of his recent crises but determined not to duck any questions either.Instead no recordings emerged for five and a half years, as he wrestled with a painful divorce, a 40th birthday and fundamental questions about what kind of artist he wanted to be.
That consciousness was always lurking in the background of his songs, but now it comes into the foreground.
“We recorded this record live in five days,” he writes in the liner notes, “using just an acoustic guitar, a mix of bass, percussion, pianos and organs, and a touch of pedal steel.
After a while you begin to feel homeless and adrift.
You look around, and all your friends have lives and families.
I didn’t have one song that I knew would be a sing along or would make people dance.
I felt vulnerable in a way that I hadn’t in a long time.On his previous album, 2010’s KMAG YOYO, Hayes sang with self-mocking humor about the travails of the road.The song “Hard Out Here” poked fun at crowds that don’t listen, deals that aren’t straight and beer coolers that run out.Moving forward, that’s one of the key aspects of his life that he wants to change. I was burned out and had lost the joy of performing music.“Getting divorced and turning 40 made me take a look at how I lived my life for the past 16 or 17 years,” he says. A lot of times I had to drink a bottle of whiskey just to get through the show.I get to write songs and have an audience that wants to hear them.