Annie Hayden

The Enemy of Love

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Annie Hayden's second album The Enemy of Love is a gentle whisper of a record. The former Spent guitarist has been listening to some '70s soft rock, it seems, and she and producer Glenn Tarachow have created a disc that is informed by the influences of people like Joni Mitchell and Fleetwood Mac, but also by a strong personal and musical statement. It's a very pleasant way to breeze through a half-an-hour of listening; Hayden's charmingly sweet vocals and improved songwriting make sure of that. It also helps that there is much more variety here than on her first record, which was good but tended to get bogged down in similar-sounding songs. Hayden varies the guitar sounds and the blend of instruments, layering electric and acoustic guitars, throwing in clarinets, triangles, and that old standby -- the Autoharp. There are also loads of lush vocal harmonies and good old-fashioned songcraft. The ballads on The Enemy of Love are the strongest part of the album. Songs like the melancholy and meandering Todd Rundgren-influenced "Hip Hurray," "Wait for Returns," and the tender "Starring in the Movies," which would actually sound great in a movie during the prerequisite "lovers staring at the same moon" sequence, are the work of an assured and polished songwriter with the intimate voice to pull them off convincingly. Hayden sound fine, too, on the peppier numbers like the almost danceable "Your Carnival" (which sports the haunting lyrical refrain "please don't please me"), the insistent (and very Spent-like) "Money Troubles," and the subtle opener "Cara Mia." Hayden doesn't exactly cut loose (the whole record makes a virtue of restraint) but she does rock out a tiny little bit. Add a nicely smoothed-out cover of the Replacements' "Swinging Party" (and subtract one draggy tune with iffy guitar tone choices, the dirge-y "Willie's Fortune") and you end up with a solid and quite enjoyable record from someone who should be making more than one record every five years.

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