By Barry Gilbert
Of the Post-Dispatch

September 5, 2002

Hayes Carll
"Flowers and Liquor"
Compadre Records

Add another name to the seemingly endless list of rootsy Texas singer-songwriters. Hayes Carll comes out of the Houston suburbs with the sensibilities of a Townes Van Zant and the twang of a Steve Earle (with better diction).

Premature praise? Perhaps; this is only his debut CD, which has been sitting in the 20s on the Americana radio chart.

On the Compadre Records Web site, Carll talks of his influences - country music and Bob Dylan - and says: "Then I got into Woody Guthrie and things like that. I figured the farther back I could go, the cooler it would be. So Dylan started the whole folk thing for me, and I've gotten progressively more narrow-minded ever since."

The newcomer has written a collection of country-folk songs full of interesting characters, sharp insights and outright laughs. Some are rockers; others are embellished with only acoustic guitars.

The title song is about failed pickup lines: "Well you like flowers and I like liquor/ Your way's nice but my way's quicker."

The funniest tune is about a guy in New Hampshire who caught his wife with another man and is now serving time in prison stamping out license plates that say, "Live Free or Die."

In other tunes, self-realization pokes through the denial, as in "Barroom Lament": "I'm really not that funny anymore/ I use to be a riot, now I'm just a lonely bore."

This is a guy who bears watching ... and listening.