My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

Album Review: Wade Hayes – ‘Place To Turn Around’

Place To Turn AroundWade Hayes was one of the more underrated of the 90s neotraditionalists, scoring only six top 10 hits in his career. I always liked his melancholy-tinged voice, and I was pleased to find he has released his first album in nine years. It’s very much an independent effort, with Wade writing or co-writing almost all the material and playing acoustic and electric guitar, and Wade has released it himself.

It opens a little disappointingly with ‘Good Day To Go Crazy’. The song itself (co-written with Jerry Salley and Jenny Farrell, both of whom contribute backing vocals on the album) is fine, as the protagonist suggests he and his woman take a break from everyday life, but Wade’s voice is too low in the mix. Luckily, things pick up immediately with the charming ‘The Best Part’, written with Michael White and Carson Chamberlain, although the production is a bit heavier-handed than I would like. Wade offers some cogent advice from his father in the aftermath of a failed marriage:

“Something special grows when two people know
They won’t run when things get hard
If you only want the good time
You’re gonna miss the best part.”

White also worked with Wade on the despairing plea to God, ‘What’s A Broken Heart To You’, which I really like, although I would have preferred a more stripped-down production without the electric guitar solo. Better-sounding, although breaking no new ground lyrically, is the tender ‘God Made Me (To Love You)’, which Wade wrote with Trent Jeffcoat and Roger Springer. Springer also wrote (with Ward Davis and Wade) the bouncy ‘Right Where I Want You’ as a former commitment-phobe gets well and truly caught by a woman “smart enough for the both of us”, who has got him “right where I want you all the time”. Equally entertaining is the cheery western swing of ‘Every Time I Give The Devil A Ride’, written with Jerry Salley and Jim McBride, with its metaphorical look at giving in to temptation.

Earlier this decade, Wade was briefly working as one half of a duo called McHayes, and his partner in that venture, Mark McClurg, wrote the charming ‘She Knows Me’, a grateful tribute to the woman who loves him even so, laden with fiddle and steel. Traditional country heartbreak-style makes an appearance with a co-write with Chick Rains, ‘I Wouldn’t Know’, painting a sad picture of a man who can’t get over the woman who left him. He asks, with evident pain, and perhaps a little bitterly:

“How does it feel to say goodbye
And not look back with a tear in your eye?
I wouldn’t know
I wake up every morning
With an empty feeling deep down in my soul
I still think of you and lose control
Lettin’ go must be nice
But I wouldn’t know.”

He adds sharply, “I bet it’s great to be so sure of yourself.”

Jerry Salley helped write the title track, another heartbroken standout, as the protagonist realises he’s taken the wrong path in life, having taken refuge in the bottle after his woman left him:

“Now I spend each day just looking for
Some way off this road I’m racing down
Now, Lord, if you’re still listening
I need to find a place to turn around

I know I can’t go on like this
I think of all the life I’ve missed
Numbing myself trying to forget her
The thing that mostly I regret,
When I’ve been drinking to forget
Is about the only thing I can’t remember.

Alongside more obvious choices like Haggard, Frizzell, and Gene Watson, the most unexpected name on Wade’s list of influences on his website is unbridled honky tonker Gary Stewart. Wade covered his ‘She’s Acting Single (I’m Drinking Doubles)’ back in his major-label days on the multi-artist Tribute To Tradition, and on this album he returns to Stewart’s repertoire with the Wayne Carson-penned ‘Drinkin’ Thing’. Wade’s version is more subdued than the original, but the song is strong enough to stand up in its own right.

The only other outside song is the pleasant love song ‘I Want To’, written by Don Cook, Phillip Johnson and Scotty Emerick, which is sincerely delivered.

Overall, this is a very pleasing record, which is growing on me more the more I hear it. It is available from Wade’s website.

Grade: B+

21 responses to “Album Review: Wade Hayes – ‘Place To Turn Around’

  1. Paul W Dennis August 17, 2009 at 9:49 am

    I purchased this about a month ago – it’s a fine CD – I apparently liked it a little more than you did as I would give it an A-

    • Occasional Hope August 17, 2009 at 10:58 am

      I do like it a lot, but I thought the songs overall were just not quite great enough for a higher grade.

      • Marian August 28, 2009 at 8:27 am

        I was disappointed in your review. There are some really good songs here and Wade’s performance is unmatched; it is really a showcase of all of his talents. He would get an A+ in my class! Love, love that voice!

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  3. James S. August 17, 2009 at 1:34 pm

    I’ll definitely check this one out. It’s been way too long since we’ve heard any new music from Wade Hayes. I have all of his albums from the past decade with my favorites being his debut, Old Enough To Know Better, and Highways & Heartaches. This sounds like another one I’d enjoy.

  4. Meg August 17, 2009 at 2:17 pm

    I’m always learning about artists that fly somewhat under the radar from you! Hayes sounds like another one I need to check out!

  5. J.R. Journey August 17, 2009 at 5:27 pm

    I had no idea Wade Hayes had a new album out, let alone that it was this good. You sure do keep up with a lot of artists.

    • Occasional Hope August 17, 2009 at 5:48 pm

      Actually, I think I got wind of this via Paul Dennis when he mentioned it was going to be coming out somewhere else (Country Unioverse, I think).

    • Razor X August 17, 2009 at 8:58 pm

      Yes, I think I will check this out as well. I liked his stuff in the 90s. I thought he’d be able to hang in there and eventually become successful but it never really materialized for him.

  6. Leeann Ward August 17, 2009 at 6:41 pm

    I’ve always thought his voice has been better than the material he’s recorded.

  7. Jordan Stacey August 17, 2009 at 9:19 pm

    I’ve only ever really heard his bigger hits, I’ve been meaning to check him out more. Would this album be a good place to start?

    • Occasional Hope August 18, 2009 at 7:24 am

      I don’t think it’s his best, but it really depends what’s available. My personal favourite is When The Wrong One Loves You Right if you can find that.

  8. Leeann Ward August 18, 2009 at 8:32 am

    Wade is on Emusic, which essentially equals between 42 to 50 cents a track, depending on the subscription you choose.

    • Leeann Ward August 18, 2009 at 8:35 am

      This new album isn’t there though. I rarely end up buying albums directly from artists’ websites. I’ve had bad luck with it in the past, especially from less popular artists who don’t have a full staff. I’m still waiting for an order from an artist that I made in 2005…and an email in response to the emails that I sent about the missing order.:)

      • Rita January 27, 2010 at 5:27 pm

        I have purchased 3 of these cds from Wade’s website and received them all very promptly and they were all personally autographed for me. I got so many because when other people listen to it they want me to get one for them too. You won’t be sorry if you buy one!

  9. Anita August 18, 2009 at 9:55 am

    Folks, this album is such a treat. It came very quickly when I ordered it off of Wade’s site and he even signed it. It may be a cliche, but truly Wade is the only singer I would choose to listen to if he were singing the phone book. I finally got some decent speakers and it is a thrill to hear Wade’s subtle delivery and great musicianship on these songs, so many of which make my heart flutter. Buying CDs that are independently produced is a great way to support an artist like Wade who is hanging in there for the love of making music. What a talent he is and besides you’ve just got to love such a decent, hardworking honky tonker 🙂 !!

  10. Kenzie August 21, 2009 at 10:15 pm

    I was so excited to hear that Wade had a new CD out. I was heartbroken when I heard he lost his record deal and scared that I’d never get to hear his voice again! To be honest, on first listen, I didn’t know what to make of the CD. It is quite different from the stuff we were used to hearing from Wade, plus it had been 9 years! Part of me was hoping for the same type of sound from him that drew me to his music in the first place, but you have to expect an artist to grow and evolve over time, and that’s exactly what Wade has done. On 2nd listen I really liked the CD, and on 3rd listen and up, I loved it!!! I do agree that the sound on Good Day to Go Crazy isn’t optimal, I think his voice does get lost a bit in the music, which is too bad as his voice is so very powerful. But it is a fun song! And the rest of the album is really quite fabulous. I highly recommend it. And truly, the service ordering it through the site was very fast.

  11. Erin August 21, 2009 at 11:44 pm

    Wade is a true talent, this new album is not to be missed! Orders on his website the only place the album is currently available online will be delivered promptly and he currently signing all orders. The woman who runs the website is first class!!!

    Wade is a true gem in Nashville! He is talented and sincere!

    Go get the album you won’t be let down! I have nearly worn mine out! He puts on a great show if you are able to see him!

  12. Sandy Cochrane January 23, 2010 at 10:04 pm

    I love Wade’s music and voice. His songs project honesty and humility to me. Very important in a person.
    HIs performances are “real”. Totally an experience to see him perform. A Pro! I wish him much success in his career.

  13. Gloria February 17, 2010 at 9:49 pm

    A place to turn around i would give it a A+, I loved it, Wade your the greatest keep up the great work. I love your voice you Rock

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