The PBJ Tour from Dogwood Events picked up a hitchhiker of sorts about halfway in, and a couple shows later, we were all grateful. Charlotte resident Hayden Lee has a more relaxed sound on this acoustic tour than the full-band folk-rock sound on his albums. Much like Barenaked Ladies front man Steven Page, that same clear heady tenor comes through with an enviable vibrato and (BONUS) fabulous socks. He’s quite flexible as well: just ask the Eddie’s Attic crowd that got a good look at his peanut butter and jelly socks!
All joking aside, his lyrics spin tales in a style that is refreshing and uncommon. Whether it’s the rambling loneliness of “The Traveler” or the battle cry of “Revolution,” there is more to his music than awesome vocals. My first thought upon hearing “Natural Phenomenon” was to liken his writing style to Paul Simon, but maybe some of that storytelling is borne out of his love of Pearl Jam. Eddie Vedder always had a knack for storytelling as well. “Better Man,” anyone?
In his interview with Nerds and Beyond last year, Lee told us that he began his music career after graduating from the College of William & Mary with Jason Manns, where the two were part of the Men’s Acapella group “The Stairwells.” After a disappointing reaction to his debut album, Manns convinced him to tour in Germany with him and another alum from “The Stairwells,” Emad Alaeddin. Lucky for us, the experience encouraged him to continue, and the rest, as he says, is history. Since that 2011 debut album, House of the Lonely Souls, he’s released two more albums and is currently working on a fourth, Crazy Little Secrets, which is set to be released in October.
Full disclosure: this tour was my introduction to Hayden Lee, and I’m now hooked. While I really loved his acoustic sound on tour (we’ll be needing an acoustic album from you, sir…), his albums feature a grittier rock sound that’s keeping me coming back for more. That grunge era influence takes me right back to the 1990s when I was wearing too much black eyeliner, band t-shirts, and flannels — a piece of nostalgia I’ll take any day.
I only have one question. Just what exactly is this, Hayden Lee?!
You can pick up all of Hayden Lee’s albums on CDBaby and don’t forget to keep an eye out for his new album Crazy Little Secrets coming in October!