Monday, March 29, 2010

Albums That You Should Own, But Perhaps Don't (And In That Case, You Soon Will): Hayden - Elk-Lake Serenade

Hayden - Elk-Lake Serenade

Paul Hayden Desser has the sort of sleepy, melancholic mumble that's normally associated with wintry folk music—all hibernal and low-toned. But on 2004's Elk-Lake Serenade, the seasons evoked are those of early spring and midsummer; the sleepiness in his baritone not from a need to turn in for the night, but rather from having just woken up from an afternoon nap.

This quality makes Elk-Lake Serenade an unlikely warm-weather album, although one more tepid than scorching.

The clever orchestration helps keep the whole affair from being downright somnolent, whether it be the swelling strings on the album opener, "Wide Eyes"; the pedal steel on "Home by Saturday"; or the harmonica on "Woody", a charming song about Desser's cat's springtime journeys through the back yard.

Other standouts are "Hollywood Ending" with its infectious "Ba da da da da da" chorus and trumpet flares; "Killbear" mournfully retells the mauling of an ex-lover by a bear; country-folk ballad "Robbed Blind" culminates with hand-claps, harmonica, and a simple electric guitar line; and "My Wife" throws you for a loop with an unexpected synthesizer hook.

Open the windows, let the warming rays of the Sun in, and take Elk-Lake Serenade for a post-lunch early afternoon spin.



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