With the release of his highly personal 2013 album Us Alone, Canadian indie folk troubadour Hayden returned from a few years away from recording, sounding refreshed and also with a renewed sense of purpose in the stripped-down presentation of his always heart-melting tunes. Just about two years later, eighth album Hey Love sounds like he's still riding that particular wave of inspiration, offering similarly spare-sounding tunes that hold deceptively simple instrumentation and hearty doses of melody delivered in the singer's by now trademarked heartfelt mumble. Recorded mostly at Hayden's Toronto-based home studio, the talented multi-instrumentalist songwriter employed everything from pedal steel guitar to vintage synthesizers to construct the intimate, melancholic moods of the album. First single "Nowhere We Cannot Go" rides buried electronic drums and layers of intermingled instruments, building on fuzzy synth and piano lines from a melancholic set of verses into a triumphant crescendo. The beautifully somber title track coasts by like an On the Beach-era Neil Young outtake, with soft falsetto vocal harmonies, glimmering slide guitars, and muted drums congealing nicely around sentiments of keeping a long-running love alive. It's not a particularly urgent track, but the song's power is in grace rather than bluster. This is the case for much of Hey Love, in both the subdued, gentle moments of soft chamber pop like "Five Seasons" and the pensive, upbeat tracks like "Time Ain't Slowing Down for Us." At this point, the songwriter sounds comfortable enough in his craft to stretch new arrangement ideas around his familiar lovelorn subject matter. Even-keeled and romantic even in the most downtrodden moments, Hey Love is another fantastic addition to the catalog of Hayden, maturing slowly and coming up with some of the nicer tunes of his run so far.
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AllMusic Review by Fred Thomas