One of Canada’s best and most under-appreciated songwriters is back. I for one am glad he is. Coming out of hibernation from his Ontario den once again, Hayden releases Us Alone on the “hip” Arts & Crafts label. This time around making an effort to be noticed, unlike his last record where he played no shows, did no interviews, and generally kept private. (He was even rumored to be dead in 2010.) Us Alone, is an 8 song (plus a stunning bonus track) record without any drastic changes musically; but with a bit more stripped down sound than his latest releases. Recorded mostly by himself at home, the melodies are subtle, and the lyrics seem to take a more mature stand; maybe it is because the record mainly has a father hood theme, according to a Times Colonist interview.
Growing up I had an obsession with Canadian music through the legendary Brave New Waves radio show on CBC Radio 2 that I would listen to into the late late nights in my Washington State bedroom. Here I discovered Hayden’s 1995 critically acclaimed dark folk-rock debut, Everything I Long For; first in a long line of consistently good records. Us Alone continues along the same winding road he has traveled his entire career, but comes across as more upbeat about the future and reflective on times passed.
Why Hayden’s not more well known is a mystery. Possibly because he released most of his music on his own label with little promotion, or maybe just because he did not seek the notoriety. Now, finally receiving some attention from bands such as The National (who he opened for last time in Oslo) playing some ATP shows in London, and setting out on a full North American tour; there seems to be some momentum for him this time around.
Hayden ages like a good wine. Us Alone is the latest harvest in what hopefully continues to be a long and productive career.