The Real Thing
Producer: Tony Brown and Robert Earl Keen
Rodney Hayden's debut release on Robert Earl Keen's Rosetta Records heralds the arrival of a major talent and true country singer. Hayden may be young, but he possesses a keen understanding of things honky-tonk, as evidence 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 "Trying To Find Myself", the too-country "Back in Your Arms", and the fiddle-laced "Heartaches and 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". The bittersweet Texas waltz "December Rose" goes down like a shot of whiskey. For anyone who may be vague on the subject, this is country music. - RW
The Real Thing
Rodney Hayden (Rosetta)
Reviewed by Ralph Novak
Rodney Hayden was born after Elvis died, but that doesn't stop this young cowboy from offering a rousing salute to his forebears. Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins all get a mention in the emotion-tinged title track, a cover of the 1973 Chip Taylor composition. There is also plenty of musical maturity behind "I Hope I Don't Fall In Love With You," a rueful cover of a Tom Waits song, and the romantic "Black Rose," a dark love song popularized by the late Waylon Jennings.
Hayden knows his way around a honky-tonk despite being barely old enough to hoist a longkneck, and he can write too. He takes his emotions out for a canter on the surprisingly sentimental "Tears Only Run One Way," one of seven songs he co-wrote. This is the first album on the new label started by country veteran Robert Earl Keen, who also serves as executive producer, and Hayden's laconic, jazzy singing is backed by a group of experienced, splendid sidemen. Their tutelage finds an apt pupil in young Hayden.
BOTTOM LINE: The Title Says It All.
Country Weekly Review
There's something bigger than Texas goin' on in Texas. Singer/songwriter Robert Earl Keen's Rosetta Records just released Rodney Hayden's debut CD, The Real Thing. And, folks, this Texas - whose rich traditional country voice comes across like he's got a gazillion years of hard livin' behind him - has turned out a stellar album, co-writing seven of the eleven tunes. "Rodney's music is straight ahead country," explains Robert Earl. "It's what Hank Williams and George Jones and every other great country performer who's been on the Grand Ole Opry stage wishes would happen to country music. It's the continuing of the real country." To listen to Rodney - who's shared the stage with Merle Haggard, Junior Brown, Charlie Robison and Hank Williams III - check out www.rodneyhayden.com or record stores.
Tony Brown (legendary producer) -
"I had never heard the original version of this song before hearing Rodney Hayden do it, so his version is 'the real thing'. This is real country music!
Robert Earl Keen-
"Rodney Hayden is a grand slam, double eagle, blackjack talent. He makes me want to give up my night job.
USA TODAY - (from printed review)
"Rodney Hayden is as solid as a well kept dance floor....."
"Although Hayden has been all but ignored by radio stations outside of Texas, his work has been praised by critics in Billboard, Country Weekly, USA Today, Entertainment Weekly, and People Magazine, and for good reason......."