Texas-to-Tennessee transplant Hayes Carll released his new studio album, You Get It All, on October 29. And yeah, it’s enjoyable. I already have it in my Top 10 Albums of 2021 (probably Top 5).
The new project features 11 songs that Hayes co-wrote—with a bevy of top tunesmiths, including Brandy Clark (“In the Mean Time”), John and TJ Osborne of Brothers Osborne (“Nice Things”), and Waylon Payne (“The Way I Love You”), among others. Allison Moorer, who has three songwriting cuts (and married Hayes in 2019), co-produced the album with guitar whiz Kenny Greenberg.
Outsider caught up to the proud son of Texas to ask him 5 Questions about his satisfying new album.
1. Your music has always been steeped in your ability to find commonality, with both your lyrics and your delivery (really evident in your live shows). Does this album fit that mold?
Hayes Carll: On a lot of these songs, I’m looking for common ground. I try to give the benefit of the doubt when I don’t understand and try to be humble when I do. Like a lot of folks, I’m just trying to figure things out for myself. And I’ve been using songwriting more and more as a way to do that. I’ve always loved the Todd Snider quote: “I don’t write these songs to change anybody’s mind, I write them to ease my own.”
2. You co-wrote every song on the album—no solo cuts. Do you feel co-writing brings out the best in you now, as opposed to albums like ‘Little Rock,’ ‘Trouble in Mind,’ ‘KMAG YOYO,’ where you had a lot of solo cuts?
Hayes Carll: When I started making up songs, I didn’t really know anything about co-writing. As time has gone on, I’ve gotten more comfortable with it. And I enjoy learning from other writers, as well as the alchemy that is created when you get two different points of view in a room and try.
3. Was the new album a product of the pandemic, in the sense you co-wrote the songs during that span?
Hayes Carll: I started a lot—and finished some—of these songs pre-pandemic. On a few of the songs, the majority of the writing was done either immediately leading up to, or in, the recording studio. I’m almost always tweaking lyrically up to the last minute. And things are always happening in the studio that I couldn’t have predicted, which sometimes changes the tone.
4. You recently said your ‘first and most formative influences came from country music.’ Who were those influences, and how are they evident on the new album?
Hayes Carll: My two first musical memories were hearing “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” in the backseat of my parents’ car, and dancing to Johnny Cash singing “Ring of Fire” in Galveston, Texas. Country music was everywhere. My first tape was Kenny Rogers Greatest Hits, and songs like “Lucille,” “Coward of the County,” and “The Gambler” made a huge impression on me. I think it showed up on this record in that I slowed down and took my time to tell the stories and sing the songs. I wasn’t rushed. One thing that has fortunately come from all these years of singing and record making has been some confidence in my abilities.
5. You’ve been making music for 20—or so—years now. Do you feel like you know who you are as a musician at this point in your career or are you still discovering things about yourself as an artist?
Hayes Carll: It’s a bit of both. I’m pretty comfortable with where I’m at. And I have a good sense of what I do well and not so well. But the opportunity to try new things and push myself is exciting to me.
I don’t have a specific goal for my songs. But I do know I would like to keep pushing to get better as a writer and as a musician. I feel really lucky to get to do this with my life. And I’d like to maximize whatever time and talent I have. There’s a million things out there to listen to. So if I can just get folks to listen to this record for a minute, that would be a win. But it would be cool if anyone found these songs relatable, or even if they just made them smile.