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Hayden, Elk Lake Serenade

Hayden’s 1995 low-fi debut Everything I Long For was the antithesis of grunge bands that ruled the day. Unlike other artists who recorded a noise of guitar, Hayden relied on acoustic simplicity. Skip forward to 2004, where mass-produced hip-hop and pop reigns, and Hayden’s style is still at odds with popular culture. He remains loyal to his short little songs and subdued vibe. Elk Lake Serenade is full of compelling personal lyrics. On the standout track, “This Summer,” he sings about the loss of two loved ones, using his deep and fragile vocals to great effect. To Hayden’s credit, he counter balances his sad songs with upbeat melodic tunes, like the exceptional “Home By Saturday” and “Hollywood Ending.” This gem from Hayden is smart, reflective and the first great album of 2004. (Hardwood/Universal) Rating: 4 Out Of 5 Stars

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