The Real Thing

Rodney Hayden's debut release on Robert Earl Keen's Rosetta Records heralds the arrival of a major talent and true country singer.

Rodney Hayden's debut release on Robert Earl Keen's Rosetta Records heralds the arrival of a major talent and true country singer. At 21, Hayden may be young, but he possesses a keen understanding of things honky-tonk, as evidenced right out of the gate by the twangfest title cut and insinuating delivery of Billy Joe Shaver's "Black Rose." Hayden shines as an insightful songwriter on such cuts as "Tryin' to Find Myself," the too-country "Back in Your Arms," and the fiddle-laced "Heartaches & Highways." He swings and sways with authority on "Mighty Lonesome Sound," and his mature baritone nails such ballads as Tom Waits' "I Hope That I Don't Fall in Love With You" and Hayden's own "I'll Give You Love." The bittersweet Texas waltz "December Waltz" goes down like a shot of whiskey. For anyone who may be vague on the subject, this is country music. Racked by Southwest Wholesale.—RW