Sean Hayes

Big Black Hole and the Little Baby Star

On his fourth full-length, Oakland-based singer/ songwriter Sean Hayes moves closer to that most unusual of amalgamations: the danceable folk singer. More than ever before -- save for maybe "Rattlesnake Charm (Dream Machine)" from his 2003 CD Alabama Chicken -- Hayes gets his groove on, laying his buttery, quavering voice over swinging drum patterns, mellifluous piano, and funky horn parts (played by Ches Smith, Etienne de Rocher, and Ara Anderson, respectively). We're talking some serious Jack Johnson, blue-eyed soul jams (with twice the sincerity, natch). There's nothing quite as gorgeously depressing as Chicken's "Diamond in the Sun," although "Fucked Me Right Up" somehow manages to make being cuckolded sound attractive, at least musically. And "Calling All Cars" -- with its lovely, repeated mantra of "Calling all broken hearts/ We'll come and go out tonight" -- perfectly captures a rebound romance, with its mix of ennui and optimism. To paraphrase a famous line: Big Black Hole's got a good beat, and you can cry to it.

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