Lisa Hayes And The Violets

Straight Line / Atlantic Records, 1999

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


One of the biggest drawbacks I have with this job isn't that I have to occasionally listen to dreck. Instead, it's that I don't have enough time in the day to catch up with the numerous albums that sit waiting in the Inbox of the Pierce Memorial Archive. One such disc that has been sitting around waiting for me to get to it is Sun from Lisa Hayes And The Violets. Fortunately for me, the label has been patient, Hayes doesn't know my home phone number to call me and tell me to get on the stick... and the disc turned out to be well worth the wait.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Hayes reminds me of many other female artists, namely Kathy Mattea, Kim Richey and Melissa Etheridge. There's enough of a light country twang in the music to explain the first two comparisons, and both a splattering of pop sensibility with lyrical openness to earn the comparison with Etheridge. But make no mistake, Hayes most definitely has a style and sound of her own - and what she brings to the music scene is incredibly refreshing.

Multi-instrumentalist Cisco DeLuna is a major key to the sound of this band. Whether he's contributing dobro, lap steel, mandolin, accordion or what have you, he helps to give the sound of The Violets a unique and special flavor. Special mention should also be given to the rhythm backbone of bassist Chuck Bramlet and drummer Jano Janosik.

If Sun does anything for me, it reminds me of what it was like for an artist like Etheridge to be hungry for the spotlight. And, with rare exception, Hayes and the band do not disappoint, causing the listener to both smile and put some thought into tracks like "Open Your Heart," "And There You Are" and "Everybody Wants To Be Like You".

Hayes powers through these numbers on vocals and guitar with all the confidence of a veteran - something you don't hear from a relatively unknown artist. With skills like she and this band have, "unknown" is a label she won't have to wear for long.

The only drawback to Sun is that it's a little too easy to allow yourself to be taken in by the music, and to lose focus on what is being played and said. "Sherry Swings" and "Don't Forget About Me" almost get completely lost in the shuffle between two killer tracks, "Everybody Wants To Be Like You" and "Love". Still, this isn't a major flaw, and it is something that is remedied with experience as a songwriter.

Sun might not be topping the sales charts of your local store, but Hayes And The Violets have crafted a wonderful album that is more than worthy of your attention. Here's hoping that someone gives this band the break that they've proven they so richly deserve.

Rating: A-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2000 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Straight Line / Atlantic Records, and is used for informational purposes only.