For Those Who Like: Wilco, Amos the Transparent, Elliot Smith, The Coast, Cuff the Duke
The success of Hayden – and no doubt the success of his seventh album – comes from decades of making music, and Us Alone showcases the detail and quality to which his listeners’ ears have come accustomed. His first release on Arts & Crafts, Hayden strips down his sound to a bare skeleton with few instruments on each track.
Even with the simplicity, or perhaps because of the simplicity, Us Alone showcases diversity – playing with folky elements in parts and then moving back to lush cinematic scenes. The beautifully constructed “Instructions” is a total gem. There is also a sincere personal element in this album with recounts of time well spent on “Almost Anything”.
While there are patterns and themes running throughout the album, still a distinction is made between each track – each one a story on its own. Hayden could be musically placed alongside artists like Wilco or Cuff the Duke – bands that have continued to evolve and play with different sounds while remaining true to the quality they produce. Hayden distinguishes himself by pushing boundaries from track to track and album to album, once again creating something beautiful and interesting.
Even though Hayden’s releases were always long awaited by fans, he spent a few years away from public notice – few shows, no tours, even finding himself listed dead on his own Wikipedia page. Returning to the stage in 2012 for the All Tomorrow’s Parties festival, and now with the release of Us Alone, he has truly proven that he is very much alive and kicking.