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Hayes Carll

Flowers and Liquor – 2002 (Compadré)

Reviewed by Robert Wooldridge

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CDs by Hayes Carll

The influence of fellow Texans past and present is very much in evidence on this debut from Houston area singer-songwriter Hayes Carll. Steve Earle is perhaps the most obvious influence on the rocking opening track "Hwy 87" and the ballad "Arkansas Blues," with the vocal on the latter also revealing a touch of Dylan.

Carll's songwriting at times displays a wit reminiscent of the late Roger Miller. The title track is a humorous ditty that explores the different sexual attitudes of men and women ("You like flowers and I like liquor/Your way's nice but my way's quicker"),while "Live Free or Die" tells of the painful irony of an imprisoned man forced to crank out license plates emblazoned with that slogan.

Elsewhere the influence of Billy Joe Shaver ("Heaven Above" and "Naked Checkers") and Robert Earl Keen ("It's a Shame") is apparent. A couple of tunes that stray a bit from the Texas theme are the classic honky-tonk sound of the closing track "Barroom Lament," on which the harmonies of Carll and producer Lisa Morales (Sisters Morales) recall those of Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris, and the straight ahead rocker "Perfect Lover."

With this, Carll has served up an impressive debut that suggests he may someday join his predecessors in contributing to the musical legacy of the state of Texas.