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Hayseed is an interesting character, combining a contrived rural persona (overalls, big walking stick, chin-fringe beard) with literary sensibilities, real songwriting chops, and a massive, soulful set of pipes. Lucinda Williams has hailed him as a great songwriter, and he's gotten some interesting attention based on the fact that he composes songs without being able to play an instrument. Stripped of all that context, however, Melic is simply a strong set of tunes in an Americana and traditional country vein, from the rollicking, front-porch instrumentation of "Cold Feet" to the uncannily ageless "God-Shaped Hole." Hayseed's pal Williams also makes a vocal appearance here on the hymn "Precious Memories." In fact, Williams' onetime bandmember (and beau) Richard Price proved to be an invaluable collaborator in helping Hayseed shape these songs. Upon Melic's release, Watermelon Records tanked, an unfortunate circumstance, as Hayseed was garnering a lot of attention in the press (No Depression magazine in particular) during the mid- to late-'90s alt-country frenzy. It's also unfortunate that Hayseed chose to let the years pass and downplay his songwriting strengths by following up this album with a set of covers. Melic shows that, outside of all the contemporary culture-referencing lyrics and literary pretensions, Hayseed is really just a great, old-fashioned country singer/songwriter.

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