It's easy to lose Hayes Carll the performer in the midst of Hayes Carll the songwriter.
Sometimes, as with the Grammy-nominated “Chances Are,” recorded by Lee Ann Womack last year, the song feels bigger than the man. That’s a beautiful thing — something that most songwriters cannot say — but it doesn’t always translate well to the stage. Despite that initial inkling, Carll undeniably delivered the emotional range of this unbelievable track. This lush performance last night was a real glimmer of super stardom amongst his otherwise quiet aura.
The wall-to-wall crowd is also indicative of a broader point: Carll’s undeniable appeal. Carll writes songs that we all wish we’d written ourselves, the kind of lyrics that punch you in the gut and make you tear up and laugh all at the same time.
Somehow, he manages to press every emotional button — the fear you feel when red and blue lights are in the rearview and you’re holding weed; the wrenching sadness of a soldier killed at war — without being overwrought or dramatic. This lyrical potency makes the lighter moments, like “Bible on the Dash,” even better.
It doesn’t hurt that Carll has been able to seamlessly blend Americana, Texas country and honky tonk music into this unique sound that is universally appealing to anyone who likes a little bit of twang in their tunes. More to the point, it's a sound that is respected. It's a sound that can make a generally raucous Dallas crowd shut the hell up and sit in their seats and really listen. — Dallas Observer