Arts & Crafts
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.