In a town so over-run with great singer/songwriters, it’s sometimes easy to forget that Nashville’s not the only place they come from. Massachusetts, California, New York, North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Oklahoma, and Oregon all do their part, too. Heck, even Iowa chips in, now and then. And, of course, there’s always Texas which, on Friday night, loaned us the great Hayes Carll for an evening.
Right at the top, Carll set out his mission statement with “Bad Liver and a Broken Heart” and the crowd erupted when he hit the thesis, “Doesn’t anybody care about truth anymore? Maybe that’s what songs are for.” Between feisty tunes like “Girl Downtown” and “Hard Out Here,” Carll kept things light and lively, moving the set along with stories as sardonic as his songs. At one point, he introduced a song saying he wrote it with Rayland Baxter. Stopping short, Carll corrected himself, “That’s a lie. I don’t know why I just said that. It’s inexplicable. Rayland Baxter is great, but I’ve never written a song with him.” Turns out, it was a Ruston Kelly co-write.
All fans of Carll’s work know what a phenomenal wordsmith he can be. (See “Drunken Poet’s Dream.”) Luckily, he shows no signs of letting up as a new tune began with these delightful lines: “You look like a tragedy that just hasn’t happened yet. You act like we were meant to be, like country songs and Tennessee.” As admittedly tired and bumbling as he was, he also made it all the way through “KMAG YOYO,” “Chances Are,” “I Got a Gig,” and more, saving the beautiful “Beaumont” for the encore.
Opener Aubrie Sellers (daughter of Lee Ann Womack and Jason Sellers) held her own, as well, seeming far more poised than her young age would otherwise suggest. And she’s got a voice to match. In a blind test, she could even be mistaken for her mom — though with a bit less twang. Her debut album is set for release in January.