Album Review

Hayes Carll - You Get It All

You Get It All indeed does have it all: the good, the bad and the most acute challenges of human experience which Carll treats with humor, heart and clear-eyed intelligence.

Album - Hayes Carll - You Get It All

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If there’s an overriding theme to Hayes Carll’s eighth album You Get It All, it's the acceptance of life and all its vagaries and variations.

Existence, its meaning, its habits and its humor, is a theme plumbed and turned inside-out from the perspective of heartsick fools (‘She’ll Come Back to Me’), a man suffering from dementia (‘Help Me Remember’), no-good scoundrels (‘To Keep From Being Found’), committed partners (‘In the Meantime’) and God herself (‘Nice Things’).

Carll claimed rightful inheritance to the high-bar of songwriting exemplified by John Prine, Townes Van Zandt and Guy Clark on his previous, much-acclaimed releases. You Get It All upholds those standards and can easily serve as a gateway listen for those who may have missed the Grammy-nominated artist’s earlier work.

Carll co-wrote all 11 songs with a rock-solid crew of collaborators including Brandy Clark, Brothers Osborne, Craig Wisemanand Allison Moorer, who also co-produced the record alongside ace Nashville guitarist Kenny Greenberg. As such, there’s an easy swagger and confidence to the album, which is rooted firmly in classic country, a style that comes easily to Carll as a native Texan.

The lead-off track ‘Nice Things,’ a rollicking tune written with John and TJ Osborne, is a study in how to write about hard truths and politics without coming off as patronizing. The scene of God visiting Earth only to encounter pollution and intolerance will find listeners chuckling and, hopefully, thinking harder about their actions:

“This is why I blessed you with compassion / this why I gave you empathy / This is why I said to love your neighbour… / This is why, this is why, this is why, why, why / This is why y’all can’t have nice things,” Carll sings in a drawl as comfortable as worn denim.

The more pedestrian of the characters populating You Get It All have been there, seen that, loved and lost hard, and still keep coming back for more. Carll is willing to examine his own imperfections as much as anyone else’s, and he quickly turns to self-scrutiny on the title track, which finds him laying it all down for love, warts and all.

“I’d rather drive you crazy being more than you could stand / than to let you fall in love half a man,” he sings, offering up his “on and off the wagon” as well as his joys, regrets and “Guy Clark cassettes.”

You Get It All indeed does have it all: the good, the bad and the most acute challenges of human experience which Carll treats with humor, heart and clear-eyed intelligence.

‘Help Me Remember,’ penned with Josh Morningstar, is a heart-wrenching song about an ageing man who, amid losing his bearings to dementia, asks his partner for help remembering who and how he lived. “I know there’s a story but it's getting harder to find,” Carll implores, continuing, “did I try to make a difference did I give a damn?”

The tone is lighter on ‘Any Other Way,’ a danceable tune that takes a decidedly lighter approach to the eternal question of how to live: “Ain't nobody knows how life is gonna happen / only thing to do is live it til it's done.”

Moorer shares co-writing duties along with Carll and Adam Laundry on the mid-tempo, slightly blues-inflected ‘Different Boats,’ which nods more vehemently to the acceptance of others as well as the self.“We all get what we’re given, we hope that it floats / everybody’s on the river, just taking different boats.”

Fortunately, Carll is able to perform the deft trick of making a listener laugh, cry and dance as he travels along.

9/10

You Get It All is out on Friday October 29 via Dualtone Records

You can purchase the record from Holler's selected partners below:

Album - Hayes Carll - You Get It All

Dualtone | 2021

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