Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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HAYES CARLL
Trouble in Mind
Lost Highway

Self-made Americana hero loses his girl to the Son of God

For fans of John Prine or Todd Snider, 32-year-old Texan Hayes Carll is a familiar type--a mush-mouthed drawler who's smarter about the beat than his shambling ways would make you think and funnier than shit when he wants to be, which is often. On his first major-label album, Carll rocks as needed across a rowdy life-scape he describes pungently ("Pills in the tip jar, blood on the strings") and sometimes ruefully ("I spend my life on this broken crutch/And you believe I can fly"). From the fantasy girl who "likes to lay naked and be gazed upon" to the jilted redneck who suspects his girl's new boyfriend, Jesus, by name, is a commie or a Jew, this is familiar territory, sonically and socially. But Hayes Carll lives there--and makes the most of it.

Blender, May 2008