Label: Hwy 87 Records
Artists who make their living playing hundreds of shows a year on the Red Dirt circuit have an especially gruelling time with relationships. Just ask Hayes Carll, whose broken heart bleeds all over his post-divorce effort, Lovers and Leavers. In fact, he sounds ravaged as if he’s taken the kind of emotional beat down that leaves a heart with just enough life to feel the hurt and not much else. So it's a damn good thing country music likes its tears-in-beers songs, because Carll has plenty of them. As you might expect, Lovers and Leavers is a gritty, somber effort that seems to tackle the singer's marital status head on while his acerbic sense of humor and fondness for an uptempo stomper have been put on hold. "Drive" is a muted effort that speaks to the monotony of the road, while "Love Don't Let Me Down" is a massive downer, lamenting not just lost love, but a lack of confidence in the entire concept of falling in love. Despite this, Carll can and does get even more morose: "The Magic Kid" is a look at his 12-year-old son through the eyes of a proud, wistful father. Ouch is right.