Skyscraper National Park

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In the three years that took place between Toronto singer/songwriter Hayden's 1998 Everything I Long For LP, the fragile-sounding musician all but disappeared from vision, only to slip back into the public eye with his third full-length disc, the provocatively low-key Skyscraper National Park. As the story goes, the record was recorded at the singer's home with a few close friends, and with no real contract or label, Hayden chose to release only 100 copies of the disc in his own handmade packaging. Thankfully for everyone else, the demand was much higher than expected, and the originally impossible-to-find record was given a full release. A record with such a lengthy back-story is often over-hyped and underdeveloped, but Hayden isn't exactly the norm. The record is a quiet affair, and the singer's normally monstrous low range is more prone to a falsetto for the length of the record, but it doesn't change the effect of brilliant tracks like "Dynamite Walls" or "Long Way Down." There really aren't any weak points on the 11-track effort, and as expected, the LP is a swirl of emotions and sentimentality -- all of which avoid being sappy and instead come across as unequivocally honest. Skyscraper National Park is an amazing record that tells its entire story with a hushed voice and subdued instrumentation, but is still more affecting then being screamed at for hours on end. Hayden rarely disappoints, and this slight variance from his older work is simply a new direction for his masterful songwriting.

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