A couple of years ago there was an album; really it was a collaboration that was supposed to be super-secret. It was a bootleg for a while, but that was most likely a huge marketing ploy to sell more records (I’m dubious of everything). That record was called Dark Night of the Soul, a collaboration between Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse (before he Elliott Smith’d himself). It was subtle, mellow, atmospheric and brilliant. For the longest time it was all I listened to. I wrote about it on my blog at the time and even put it up so others could download it. It was 2009 and I couldn’t think of another album that made that kind of impact on me that year.
This year there have been some very solid albums, but very few that have moved me, off the top of my head Damien Jurado, Everest and now Sean Hayes are the only ones that comes to mind. Sean Hayes released his first album on tape in the ‘90s, by most standards it would be hard to consider him a new artist, but he really is new to the vast majority of people just catching on to his sound. I brought up Dark Night of the Soul initially, because it is so similar in sound, both texturally and emotionally.
Hayes’ new album, Before We Turn to Dust, is simplistic in its brilliance. There is an easy effortlessness in Hayes’ voice as he sings his way through what may go down as his best album yet. The tonality of his voice is superb and as we’ve spoken of before, Hayes is doing things nobody else is doing. He has a darkened bar type of feel to him. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of going to New Orleans you might know what I’m speaking of.
It draws you in and makes you want to listen. It is such an engaging album and yet not over the top in the slightest. All of these analogies and influxes of comparisons really become apparent in a single song, “Deep Down”. What is so different about Hayes in regards to the distance between this album and the others that have been released this year is the sheer guts of the album to not be over-produced over-dramatic drivel. In a scene that is so utterly bereft of originality, Sean Hayes is being truly original and that’s scary.
It’s scary because being original means taking chances. Many artists take chances by blowing the whole thing up, pyrotechnic like visuals, anthemic sounds that blow the senses into oblivion and lyrics that appeal to the drug addled, fun natured kid in all of us. Hayes refuses to be put into that box, a box that, at this moment, I feel nothing but utter contempt for. Coming out on September 11 is weird enough as it is, but coming up against Bob Dylan means the record company believes in him and with good reason. The music does its job, his voice does its job and we do ours by basking in the effervescent charm of Sean Hayes and his phenomenal brand of brilliance.