The mumbling lumberjack’s back. It’s been 16 years since Paul Hayden Desser legitimized the yarl on Everything I Long For, 14 years since he toned it down on The Closer I Get and 12 years since he released his greatest achievement, the incomparable Skyscraper National Park. Then he dropped three more albums, though few people seemed to notice. Even outspoken fan Jerry Seinfeld moved on to Maybach Music Group’s Wale.
Now on Arts & Crafts, Hayden’s proven himself once again with Us Alone. Another collection of warm, distinctly Canadian compositions, the release is driven by an arresting subtlety as the singer-songwriter gently unfolds each sparse idea. Opener “Motel” is probably the best of the batch, with a rich palette of instruments and a clever chord progression, but there’s little wrong with the entire 45-minute album. If anything, Hayden’s frequent lyrical references to songwriting, touring and recording are the only detractor. He’s still an accomplished poet, but no one wants to hear him write a meta-comedy Community episode.
Still, that’s a small complaint for what is an unassuming and profoundly stirring new release from a seasoned veteran.