Living the Good Life
First Appeared at The Music Box, October 2003, Volume 10, #10
Written by John Metzger
The good news for Rodney Hayden fans is that on his new album Living the Good Life he wholly avoids falling into the dreaded sophomore slump. The bad news is that he virtually retreads the ground he covered quite well on his debut The Real Thing. Still, there are worse fates that could have befallen him, and at least, he gets to retain his self-proclaimed (and well-deserved) title.
Not that on either of his outings Hayden has ventured into territory that is particularly groundbreaking. He’s just good at what he does. Really good. For the record, he’s far more conservative a craftsman than his biggest supporter Robert Earl Keen, and his sometimes clichéd lyrics touch upon the usual stories of shattered dreams and broken hearts. It’s only on the rousing rocker Son of a Rolling Stone with its stinging electric guitar and driving banjo (courtesy of David Grissom and Danny Barnes, respectively) that Hayden steps outside of his clearly defined box to show that he might be the heir apparent to the Texas outlaw spirit.
As for the rest of the material on Living the Good Life, Hayden plays it much closer to his vest. At this point in his career, he’s a better performer than a songwriter, yet with tunes like Goodbye to My Hometown’s bittersweet reflection on growing up and moving on, he reveals the greatness that lies buried within him, waiting to mature. Nevertheless, Hayden’s albums manage to sound fresh, largely because they are so out of touch with today’s music business. His songs are pure, straightforward country nuggets that give the genre’s classic heritage a contemporary twist without ever falling into the formulaic pop that Nashville is once again churning out at a ridiculous rate. Indeed, Hayden has been dubbed "too country for Nashville," which sounds silly but is sadly true. Still, Nashville’s loss is Texas’ gain, and one would be hard-pressed to find anyone else who holds more promise for the future of country music than Rodney Hayden.
Living the Good Life is available
from Barnes & Noble. To order, Click Here!
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2003 The Music Box