Review: Hayes Carll "Kmag Yoyo (& Other American Stories)"

No one can accuse Hayes Carll of being a shrinking violet as his notorious video and radio single "She Left Me for Jesus" proved. The brash country boy's new album drives home the point even further with the interestingly titled "KMAG YOYO," which, in case you don't already know, stands for: Kiss My Ass Goodbye. You're On Your Own. Not exactly Sunday morning fare.
The album begins with the retro-cool, toe-tapping cut "Stomp And Holler" The feisty country rocker follows with the more laid-back "Hard Out Here," which more adequately shows the artist's substantial country charm.

However, the best track on the album is the sparse and haunting "Chances Are." This formidable track pulls at the heartstrings. The casually confident "Grand Parade" is buttery smooth and could be a major summer radio chart hit. The title track KMAG YOYO channels Elvis in the best possible way and is followed by the terrific duet (with Cary Ann Hearst) titled "Another Like You."

However, the album's best song is "Bye Bye Baby," which offers seemingly simple lyrics that take on new meaning with Carll's nuanced vocal performance. The next best cut is the honky tonk "Bottle In My Hand," where Hayes Carll is joined by friends Corb Lund and Todd Snider. Any person absent of a smile at the end of this song is void of human emotion.

During the final two songs of the album, Hayes Carll the storyteller emerges in top form with "Grateful For Christmas" and the gospel-tinged final track "Hide Me."

"KMAG YOYO (& Other American Stories)" is a musical masterwork from Americana music's boldest bad boy. However, Hayes Carll is more complex than his flamboyance might suggest, because his brutal honesty sometimes masks the humanity that is so evident in his more subdued and quiet songs which make this project a well-rounded feast for the ears.