HAYLEY REARDON - WHERE THE ARTISTS GO

Hayley Reardon (from the album Where the Artists Go) - Hayley Reardon is searching for a place to be. She starts at singer/songwriter square one, looking inward on Where the Artists Go to find out where she needs to take her next steps in the game of life.

 

The Boston based singer looks to local heroes to more fully understand love and leaving (“Like He Knows the Red Sox”), writes to the pangs of growing up (“Change”) and bares her love for a blank page waiting for her words (“Only Pretending”). Hayley Reardon scribes coming of age into her songs and fuels the message with the passion of unlimited possibilities.

The 1960’s were full of inspirational songs about music and having a career simply by showing up in the right place. The Drifters talked about the lights on Broadway and knowing you can play “this here guitar”. Chuck Berry kicked it off, writing songs about the music rather than about the love or the lack thereof, and “Johnny B. Goode” used the train tracks to keep the beat and then ride out of town. While The Monkees talked about kids with guitars forming teen garage bands in “Pleasant Valley Sunday”, The Kinks presented a darker side, devoting an entire album to the snarkiness of the music business with “Lola Versus Powerman Versus Money-Go-Round”.

As the decades progressed, the songs leaned more towards a life in music. Today, with shows like “The Voice” and “American Idol”, a life in music looks like a cake walk into a career. Voice+Bling= Access, but entry does not guarantee that there are no exits. Singing is not songwriting, and no amount of emoting grants ownership to the music you are making. Putting voice, words and music together is what makes for staying power. Hayley Reardon is a fifteen-year-old with a guitar who writes poetry that happily finds its way into song. Her perspective and vocal delivery will dub her an anomaly. She is not. She is a female with a guitar and a way of seeing the world, and telling you about it, that is unique. She is not unlike all those former decades of younger artists who cut through the sticky sweet gooiness of Pop to get your attention.

There might be a tendency for those who have the need (and by need I mean obsession), to put things in boxes to hear other voices in Ms. Reardon.  Yep, she sounds like Kasey Chambers and she is female. You can stretch and find other similarities, but why bother. Hayley Reardon is a songwriter and performer. Given her age of fifteen, when writing many of the tracks included on Where the Artists Go, my guess is the words were all poetry not that long ago. Poetry found rhythm, and songs came to life.

The title track for Where the Artists Go is autobiographical in that the words mirror Hayley’s thoughts on the subject; “’Where the Artists Go’ is about looking for the artist in everyone. The song was inspired by an eighth grade social studies project where we were asked to draw ourselves exactly as we saw ourselves. A boy in my class that I hardly knew had drawn a self-portrait that so beautifully captured the explosion of light and color inside the mind of an artist. I was so inspired by the fact that this quiet boy in my history class that I had known for years, had such light and passion inside of him, and that I got to see a glimpse of it that day. It got me thinking about what kind of explosion of creativity and spark might lie beneath the skin of all the people I see day to day but only know on the surface. The song is about breaking rules and being passionate, bold, and original…and even more so, it’s about being proud of being all those things and letting them shine through. It’s about being proud of the explosion, no matter how big, that makes each of us our own artist”.

How Hayley got to these words and could articulate her experiences in a little over a decade of learning to speak is secondary to the fact that she did, and here they are. “Only Pretending” follows the same train track rattle that fueled Johnny B. Goode licks and talks of breaking out and breaking free. “Tribe” softly plucks a reverie rhythm that shows the face in the mirror as different, and the understanding that it is okay to not be like everyone else, as long as you pack for your exit and sing a little louder along the way. Where the Artists Go can be cast as coming of age thoughts riding on a sea of song. Hayley is a teenager, so seeing her age in her songs is not a huge stretch. Go beyond who is writing, and listen instead to the experience, and her words can truly be what you are looking for as answers. There is a unique world view and an everyman way of describing the scene that makes these songs sing. “Scribbles” realizes that “there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s being afraid”, claiming she will never know herself as well as her scribbles know her. “Seattle” follows the street lights into a darkness that seems to go on and on, lighting up the path out of town and into the knowledge that “there’s music tonight in Seattle”. The sound that wraps around each of the songs finds its groove and comfortably surfaces with rock, folk, country and soul all included in the final mix.

Hayley Reardon fills Where the Artist Go with songs from her own pen and vocals from her own voice. A male poetry reading sneaks into a track or two with a Mister Rogers-like feel and form. It is the only thing that takes away from the album, the lady and her songs. As a songwriter, Hayley Reardon seems a natural. Where the Artists Go is where Hayley lives. Listening to her work gives the impression the scene will find her, she does not need to couch surf in Austin, East Nashville, Portland, San Antonio or Brooklyn. As Hayley points out in “Goodbye Song”, her one downfall is observation, stating “I wish I wasn’t so bad at being honest”. That might be the case for a one-on-one relationship, but Hayley now belongs to the world. For Roots music, and its need to have its words ring out like bells, honesty works just fine.

DANNY MCCLOSKEY/RA

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