Love, life and the blues inspire singer Hayden

Sure he’s grown up a bit, but he’s still Hayden.

The Richmond Hill, Ont., singer-songwriter (born Paul Hayden Desser) returns with In Field & Town, his first release in four years. The disc’s acoustic licks and folksy, gentle keyboard tones have taken on more of a patina than work he’s known for (certainly more so than grungy 1995 debut Everything I Long For), but make no mistake, this is Hayden at his despondent best: In Field & Town’s matured lyrics have lost none of their sullen ruminations on life and love (or the lack of it).

“Women have never adored me,” he told Metro in a recent interview.


You’d half expect to find such a person sticking his head in an oven with a sign saying, “No funeral” pinned to his back, but Hayden maintains he’s a pretty cheerful guy on the whole. He just likes to create when he’s blue.

“I hate it when people are happy. Generally there’s too much happiness in the world, so it’s my job to bring it down a notch,” he laughed. “But I’m really not that loner in the darkness taking notes on other people’s lives. I have certain themes that I like to explore and I go back to them. More times than not when I’m writing songs I’m not incredibly happy or bubbly.”

It’s not as if the 36-year-old hasn’t got a lot to smile about, either: Hayden’s got creative carte blanche through self-owned Hardwood Records, a label that also boasts the work of Cuff The Duke and Basia Bulat; 2004’s Elk Lake Serenade, the follow-up to his 2001 comeback album Skyscraper National Park, was a critical European hit, opening the door for gigs on the other side of the pond last November.

It’s a far cry from his self-imposed exile in the wake of a 1995 donnybrook between major labels, hunting for the brooding singer with offers as high as six figures. Universal eventually laid claim to the contract, but lukewarm sales of Everything I Long For outside Canada led it to drop support by 1997. Touring took its gradual toll, and it would be six months before Hayden would go near a guitar.

“I’m thankful that certain things happened to me then,” he said. “The records I’ve made since then wouldn’t have been the same if I hadn’t gone through that experience. It was a situation where a few factors took me away from what I love about making music. I put records out on my own so I can not have any decisions made for the wrong reasons, and keep things at a level where I’m comfortable.”

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