Seen Enough Leavers
Cranky Heartburn Music
Divorce is a powerful expedient in songwriting, and Nashville’s Meghan Hayes would be the first to agree. The late Pegi Young also exemplified this (read my Ink 19 review of her last record, Raw, following her breakup from Neil Young: https://ink19.com/2017/03/magazine/music-reviews/pegi-young-the-survivors). Hayes is a gifted Americana singer/songwriter with poignant, powerful lyrics and haunting melodies pulled straight from the depths of her core that resonate with the brokenhearted. Vocally and stylistically similar to Shawn Colvin, Hayes’ latest ten-track release and third album, Seen Enough Leavers, was already a work in progress when her 20-year marriage abruptly ended. Fueled by this life-altering turn, Hayes plunged headlong into music as her cathartic savior. The result was this aural triumph with raw, soul-baring emotion, pain, loss and finally, hope. Hayes is not just a writer – she is a bona-fide poet who can paint a picture of desperation through deep lyrics.
Produced by Dex Green (who plays a myriad of instruments on the record as well) and engineered by Joe Costa, Hayes also is backed by industry guitar legend Audley Freed, drummers Tommi Rautiainen and Goffrey Moore, pedal steel player Thayer Sarrano, guitarist Jamie Rubin, mellotron/accordion player Derry DeBorja and backup vocalist Mando Saenz. All songs were written or co-written by Hayes.
With plaintive notes and fierce, doleful vocals, “Georgette” slays its opening slot on the record and wraps itself around you so tightly that you WILL replay it again and again. Permeated with subtle pedal steel and drums with an unexpected killer solo from Freed, the simple folk song has echoes of a slower-tempo “Jolene” (Dolly Parton). Hands-down, this is my favorite track.
Picking up the pace with the title track, “Seen Enough Leavers,” Hayes gets right to the point: I’ve seen enough leavers to know/He won’t be back/Some things are just true/Like I stayed too long with you. Another lyric that really captured me was Now a shock of bony flowers/Clogs a dull pot/The urge may be gone/But the edge is not. Perhaps the most relatable line is in the chorus: Time’s the fastest thing I know/It’s run away with everything I’ve had to show/With all the months and years spent dodging your blows/Time’s the fastest thing I know.
Another standout track is the catchy “This Summer’s Sleeper,” the most upbeat and pop-oriented selection on the record. It was the only song that Hayes co-wrote (with David McKittrick and Richard Large).
The remaining seven songs deal in pain, regret and loss, with some heavy, razor-sharp lyrics. In “Potholes,” the clear reference to Hayes’ failed marriage cuts right to the bone: This time of year rips my pieces apart/The first fucking Noel fills my shopping cart/…I skipped that part/Must have missed the start/Was out sick on the day they raffled off the answers to the families in the park.
“A Birthday In The Pawnshop (Morristown)” tells the woeful tale, from the dead wife/mother’s perspective, of the couple’s struggle to survive and her eventual suicide. Rex lost it all at the greyhound track/I couldn’t have held a job if it was strapped to my back/The night before Lila reached the age of nine/I threw myself a farewell party of meth and wine/The walls were dirty and the lights were dim/Rex identified my body as next of kin.
Returning to a more upbeat sound musically (but not lyrically) with “Second To Last Stand,” Hayes once again shows her poetic prowess: The trouble with dreaming/Is it comes to an end/It breaks like a fever/And leaves you stranded/In dirty sheets just shy of a plan/To get you to the promised land.
The penultimate track, “Next Time Around,” focuses on the sad, empty place a house becomes after a marital breakup. Squares of clean paint unmasked by your exit/Floors unburdened by rugs/I should be scrambling to cover these up but I’m not…You swore we’d die in this place/I bet the people we bought it from once said exactly the same…Even the leaves are leaving/I don’t know if they get pushed or they leap But in the end, there is still some hope. Maybe we all get more chances the next time around.
Hayes’ closing track, “Story Of My Life,” couldn’t be more perfect. It features only Hayes on acoustic guitar/vocals accompanied by DeBorja on accordion. I’ve been offered nothing/Nothing will suffice/And that’s the story of my life. But there is still that glimmer of hope. One sweet minute of one night/All lost was found, remember/I’ve been out looking for the light/To brighten these dark rooms forever/Dark rooms Bright lights/That’s the story of my life.
While the lyrics are definitely heavy throughout this record, they are downright brilliant and show the poetic depth of this extremely versatile, talented singer/songwriter. Hayes’ pure soprano vocals will grab you from the first note, while her lyrics will hold you enraptured until the last.