Vincent Hayes – The Grind | Album Review

Vincent Hayes The Grind Vincent Hayes – The Grind

 10 tracks; 49:15

 North 61 Records & Productions LLC

Vincent Hayes is an award-winning West Michigan guitarist and singer. He and his band were 2011 WYCE Jammie Award Recipients for Best Album, Best Blues Album, and Best Group. In 2014 Hayes was the WYCE Jammie Award winner for Best Blues/Soul Album. He has even been a Blues Blast Award Nominee for Best New Artist Debut, Sean Costello Rising Star Award in 2011. His debut album Reclamation made people take notice and his sophomore effort The Grind should solidify his position as a rising force in the blues and blues-rock pantheon.

The debut, Reclamation, was attributed to The Vincent Hayes Project which was a larger band. Keeping only his name from the Project moniker, for The Grind Hayes has pared it down to a trio with David Alves on bass and Donnie Hugley on drums. Hayes uses the full range of tones associated with the Fender flagship guitars. He puts his Strats and Telecasters through the wringer and coaxes emotional responses from the wood and steel. His lyrics are not cluttered with clichés or pathetic attempts to incorporate contemporary jargon. There are no Facebook references, no Tweets, and no twits. Hayes is a smart guy with a fresh approach to songwriting from which other lyricists would do well to draw inspiration.

“All You’ve Got” opens the The Grind with a swirl of Hendrix infused tones, and lyrics that belie Hayes’ approach to life and music. He belts out “Will you stand up for what’s right when you’re called upon to fight for the truth?” and “Will you give up, give in, or give it all that you’ve got?” Vincent Hayes is giving it all he’s got. “Common Vision” packs in everything from ripping guitars and popping bass to scathing social commentary. Hayes knows we’ve been sold a bill of goods by all aspects of society, which will never be delivered. Vincent Hayes hopes for a “Common Vision” that will bring us out of the downward spiral. His solos and vocals are impassioned and burn with the heat of a man who has walked through fire.

“Things That Get Me By” reminds us that in this mixed up world, it’s the little things that get you through.  The big picture can be so blurry and clouded you’ll go crazy thinking about it. To survive you have to focus on the small things. “My Guitar And My Baby” carries the idea a little further as Hayes sings about the soul satisfying effects of a good woman and a trusty instrument. “The Other Side Of Town” is a slow burning blues in the style of SRV’s “Tin Pan Alley” or “Dirty Pool.” That’s not to say Hayes copied those songs; rather his fat Fender tones and flowing fretwork conjures the spirit of Stevie Ray the way Stevie tipped his hat to Albert King and Lonnie Mack.

When asked about the concepts on The Grind, Hayes said “It’s dark, murky and an honest look into the way we exist in today’s world, and the questions many of us wake up with every day, and some of us are afraid to ask ourselves. The blues is in everything I do, but I’ve got to write the music I’ve got to write, and sometimes it’s not the blues, nor rock, or whatever. You know, just let music be music, not necessarily defined by a genre or expectations of what that music should or should not be. Reclamation was me saying to the blues world, ‘here I am’, The Grind is more like the bridge to where I’m going.” Vincent Hayes should be going far and will hopefully transcend labels and convention. The Grind won’t be easy to escape but Vincent Hayes has the tools and the attitude to make it.

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